Bucket List!

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A bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying. Your first question would be why the hell Pramod is talking about death. But the usage of this term has been quite recent. Hitting the bucket is the colloquial term for dying. It is not about death. But do not forget that bucket list need not be life long. You can make short term bucket lists a few times a year. Items could be “I will buy a pair Rayban goggles this month”, or “I am going to meet my long lost friend Deepak in next two months”. Do not forget that these shortlists are also going to give us great joy! My item was keeping a ponytail. If I had done it otherwise, people would have said, “Pramod has gone senile”! I used Corona situation to fulfil my wish!

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Typical lists have different items on each individuals’ list. From visiting the standard places like Tajmahal, Niagara falls, Eiffel towers and so on, the list will be endless. See the Wall of China, Visit Machu Pichhu, Meet Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe are some other favourite items (Ladies let me know your preferences). Watch a cricket match at MCG in Melbourne with the capacity crowd was on my list- I did it in March 2015.

But the first half of the year 2020 has made a drastic change in the thinking of people. In my case, it is a dramatic change. I feel as if I have achieved Nirvana of sorts! Thanks to Coronavirus. It appears that this situation will continue for three to six months more. Have I been a person who prefers to be home-bound? Marathi term for this is घरकोंबडा! Not really. We always used to go out, meet friends, see movies when possible, travel. Going to restaurants, inviting friends at home was our regular routine. Post 22nd March, everything has stopped.

I live in an eleven-story condo tower and live on the 7th floor. All my windows and the balcony face the west. In summer times, the harsh sun is so bright that we were forced to put sunscreens which blocked the light a hundred per cent. With this change, the weather inside is controlled, we do not need an AC. It is so dark within the room, we need to put on the light if we have to do some chore. But this is only a small irritant. The benefits of west-facing home, on the 7th floor with an unblocked view, for miles together, has its advantages. The lockdown brought out the benefits to the fore. What have I been missing?

Even before this lockdown, we sometimes had our cuppa early morning with a beautiful breeze, fresh directly from the hills. It is invigorating, to say the least! Yes, the fog or smog sometimes made the view hazy. I have been enjoying the misty Pune rains of the monsoon sitting there. But never had I even thought of that I would be looking forward to being in the balcony every day! I am there, every day in the evening for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Watching the movies created by nature. With the monsoon in the air, there are clouds. Clouds, in many shades of grey- from light grey to ominous grey in different formations, are seen every day. Even at this age, the real dark ones bring a tinge of fear in mind! But since Pune does not get high rainfall, these clouds hit the hills in around water bodies around Pune to quell their fury! The fascinating canvas that gets unrolled every day, with the sun playing hide and seek, is to be seen to be believed. The holi of colours is played every day! From bright gold to enchanting red, from dark grey to emerald blue the combinations will beat the colour shades offered by computers, hollow.

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A couple of weeks into lockdown, we started hearing chanting and cooing of birds loud and clear! Unfortunately, as I am on the 7th floor, even the tall trees are well below my line of sight. So I am not able to see any of the birds unless they are flying. I do see some parrots and pigeons resting on the terraces of the buildings nearby with a few squirrels thrown in. I am sure they were infrequently seen even before lockdown, but I never made it a point to watch them. Honestly, in my lifestyle before and after lockdown, there is only 10 to 15 per cent change. Post “almost retired” status we went out much less compared to working days. But it is the mindset change that has made the difference.

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                                                     Cannon 1100 D Camera 70X300

I take advantage of my being at the vantage point to see nature regularly. I cursorily looked at Sinhgad, a Shivaji time fort, about twenty km from home. The pollution, the smog was simply missing, and I could clearly see the fort. I started taking photographs of Sinhgad as many times as possible. The clarity is stunning! On one day Sinhgad was looking hazy, and the lockdown was just easing out. I got worried and shared with Jaya that the beautiful site will now be eaten up by the pollution. But the next day, things were “normal”! I could take photographs of Sinhgad. I had forgotten that fog is a normal phenomenon of nature; I had simply concluded that it was lost to pollution!

My favourite example of such adversities is based on how to take advantage of the difficulty. Sachin Tendulkar in a match versus Pakistan in South Africa was facing Shoib Akhtar at his best. He was fast and furious on that day and bowled a nasty bouncer to Sachin. He simply raised his bat at the last moment and slashed hard as the ball was moving at high speed and an awkward bounce. Next moment the ball was in the stands travelling ten rows over the spectators.

The lockdown has been thrown at us by the destiny, hit it for a six. Do not get into “I am bored”, “I do not know what to do mode!” You have not suddenly become older by ten years. Our generation has been lucky that many diversions onscreen in different formats are available to us at our fingertips. The important thing is there is no one to limit our screen time. In fact, our family and friends are worried if you are not able to use technology to your benefit! Play that computer game, see the old Hitchcock movie Psycho! See the brand new Swara Bhasker serial Rasbhari! You will be able to watch free webinars ad nauseam. See those old dramas or one-act plays which you missed in your busy schedule and chat with friends. Look for your seventy-year-old ex-flame and see what she is up to. In fact, you will not get time to say “I am bored”, “I do not know what to do mode!”

 

                                                     Entrance Beach, Australia

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With reset of mind due to lockdown, my thinking about bucket list has changed. I would rather be with nature. Trees, clouds, mountains, birds and the beasts would enchant me more, and I would rather be with rivers and ocean! The idea has been in mind since I visited the Entrance beach in Australia. It was a majestic, serene and enchanting beach on the Pacific ocean. Over a period, many of our travels included nature rather than large cities. Lockdown has converted me. I am getting to tick mark some portions of the bucket list sitting at home!

Do not worry about me! I am not balcony bound. I am also into video calling and doing different things. With my engineering college groups, I have started to interview friends who have achieved many things in life. These interviews keep me busy in logistics, coordination and other stuff. Plus of course, family video calls are there. Life is home-bound but busy! It is about resetting your mindset as per the situation. One of the significant change could be to modify your bucket list! Taking photographs regularly was one of them!

Error 404, Page not found! 

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We try to communicate with each other by different means. But the era of communication and thereby miscommunication can be divided into two different times, BI and AI. BI is before the internet, and AI is after the internet! “Error 404, Page not found” is the typical well-known error from AI times. All of us are familiar with this error. When we are looking for something on the computer, there is miscommunication in the systems. The buzzword for this is protocol issues. Whatever we were searching is not loaded; hence the device gives us the message!

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But it is enjoyable when we use old methods in modern times. A friend was celebrating his birthday yesterday. As I prefer, I called him to wish instead of sending a message like HBD on WhatsApp! All of us are happy when someone calls us to wish on a birthday or to celebrate an achievement. I was standing in the balcony of my condo while talking to him. He lives across my condo about four hundred meters on the opposite side of the road. I am on the seventh floor, and he is on the 9th floor. I jokingly said, “You have never come to my house, but if you were standing in the balcony, I would be able to see you. I am on my balcony.” He does not have a balcony, but he came in the large window of his house. The photo above shows the building where he lives. I have used a zoom lens for the photo- the building is not close as it looks! It was difficult to “see” at such a distance and height. So I told him, “ I will wave a red bandana to you!” I waved it, he saw me and so could I! We were both happy, like children. I simply used time tested method of waving something bright. There we were enjoying the chat and the thought that we could “see” each other in the lockdown times.

I have this seen in Hollywood movies. Two guys not known to each other want to meet. Then one of them would say, “I would wear Red Carnation on the Blue Lapels.” That is the way to send the signal to recognise others. I was wondering why this combination?

It is a common notion among men. The wearing of a flower in one’s lapel is the least used gestures of elegance seen in modern times. Much of this stems from the perception that flowers lie within the domain of the fairer sex. Sean Connery as James Bond would wear this combination.

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I sometimes wonder how we communicated at all during BI times. In the year 1980, Jaya was in the US for her MS, Sachin, and I lived in India. Jaya would write to me to fix the “meeting” time. We spoke every fifteen days. In her letter, she would confirm the time of her call. I did not have a telephone at home. So I would go to the designated place to receive the call. I know of someone who called his parents twice in about fifteen years from the US in those days. Both the times it was to inform the birth of his children.

Till my Inter-Science in 1967, I was in Mumbai for education. My father was transferred to Jalgaon, and I lived in hostels. After the examination, I decided to take up the engineering course in Pune. I don’t remember how I communicated with my parents. Maybe I shared the information by post!

There was a fancy instrument called telegram used by the post office. You had to go to the post office to send a telegram. Writing a telegram was also an art. The charges depended on the number of words use. There was regular and urgent telegram. In those days, getting a telegram was mostly connected with bad news. On some occasions, you got a telegram informing that you passed a particular competitive exam with flying colours. Also, ran like me were guaranteed never to receive such telegrams. The information in a telegram was communicated by using Morse code. For those who have forgotten about Morse code, here is the definition.

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Morse code is a character encoding scheme used in telecommunication that encodes text characters as standardised sequences of two different signal durations called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph.

It reminds me of a couple of historical incidents.

Siddhi Johar led the Bijapuri force. Discovering Shivaji’s location, Johar laid siege to Panhala fort. Netaji Palkar made repeated attempts to break the Bijapuri siege from outside but failed.

Shivaji, Baji Prabhu Deshpande with a select band of troops, decided to attempt to break through the siege at night and make for  Vishalgad. To deceive the Bijapuri forces, who would give a chase once they found that Shivaji had broken the blockade, Shiva Nhavi, volunteered to dress like the king and let himself be captured.

On a stormy full moon’s night (Ashadh Purnima), a band of 600 selectmen, led by Baji Prabhu and Shivaji, broke through the siege. The Bijapuri force hotly pursued them. As planned, Shiva Nhavi allowed himself to be captured and taken back to the Bijapuri camp, fully comprehending that he would be put to death once the charade was discovered. This sacrifice, however, gave the fleeing Maratha force some breathing space. Shivaji escaped ahead, and Bajirao and his me kept fighting the suicide mission. The firing of three cannon volleys signalled Shivaji’s safe journey to Vishalgadh.

Narayanrao Peshwa was killed because of the forgery in communication in the communication given to his captors. The message was in Marathi – “नारायणरावांना धरा.” It was changed by his aunt Anandibai to मारा instead of धरा. The infamous treacherous act from Peshwa history is known as “ध चा मा”; the meaning of the message was changed from धरा meaning HOLD to मारा kill! A change in a single alphabet led to the killing of Narayanrao Peshwa.

I meandered from my waving of the red bandana to older methods of communications. But it is fun to delve into older techniques. Now, of course, communication methods have changed. But one issue scientists have not overcome. When the spaceships go to the backside of the Moon, called dark side, the communication stops!

Communication methods return the same as fashion, at least name wise. In the stone age, we used to write on walls; now we report on the Facebook wall! We used morse code but now use the technique of one missed call- “I am late”! Two missed calls- “I have come!” Three missed calls- I have cancelled!”

The human brain is innovative and keeps on finding new ways of communicating. Police still use a good old wireless walkie talkie. HAM radio usage is almost gone after the invention of the Satellite phone. But some people always keep on celebrating technology among the closed group. Probably it is for the old times’ sake.

What’s Up, Folks! 

In today’s times, it will look like wrong use of the phrase! People talk more on WhatsApp and Facebook, social media. What’s Up, Folks! It is a phrase we use when you meet someone face to face. Meeting face to face is equally alien-like someone not having FB/WA account or not having cell phone itself. It is a revolution which was not foreseen even fifteen years back. But significant hardware changes and the infrastructural changes in the Internet have made this possible. That has led to the formation of WhatsApp University, but it could be FB University as well!

I now find that some secret writers have come up like mushrooms on these Universities. They write long essays on various subjects; they also write “treaties” and attribute them to well-known personalities. We have no shortage of gullible people. These write-ups start circulating, there are discussions, there are comments. It goes on and on and on.

The thing about some of these long essays is that the language used is reasonably good. The writings are logical, but in most cases, these are written by invisible people. The recent one about Mr Ratan Tata is a case which fits the bill. Finally, Mr Tata declared that he has not written the article. I have doubts in my mind whether Mr Tata wrote both the original write-up and the denial. Tata group donated Rs 1500/ crores to the various funds to fight the current pandemic. The philanthropic role played by the Tata group, in the development of India is too well known to be discussed here. Tata group has been a visionary, the founder Jamshedji Tata and later J R D Tata have shown the pathbreaking ways to the group. Mr Ratan Tata has ably continued the legacy. FB/WA university has its favourites. Wipro donated Rs 1150/ crore, L&T Rs 500/ crores plus they will keep on paying Rs.500/ cores a month to their contract workers till the lockdown lasts. These names somehow are not in circulation.

Some people are intelligent, sensible and keen to do social service to benefit the society. I salute such people. They create NGO’s, they form pressure groups and create pressure on the governments to rethink on many projects such as urban mobility, large dams, and so on. They push authorities to ensure that our hills and trees are not destroyed blatantly. I have a friend who fits the bill. But it appears that recently he has started calling himself an activist. What is the difference between a person doing social service and a social activist? Jaya described it very well. When she was chatting with this friend during dinner at a party, he said that he had become an activist. Jaya said, “Oh! It means your life has become easier; you do not have to deliver anything. No deliverables, just oppose and criticise.” He was upset and walked away. It hurts when you get shot in the bull’s eye.

I will share some more things about the friend mentioned above. He is on the FB university and looks like he has become a chair professor! He has been writing a lot of stuff on FB and forwarding articles or videos. In the current scenario of the pandemic, the nerves of people in society are frayed. His “friends” from a group of highly intelligent individuals don’t like the tack he is taking these days on critical subjects. But our friend is actively pushing his ways; some friends have started saying that he has an agenda. Matters reached an ugly stage, and most of his friends from that group regularly bashed him up. The situation became nasty and bloody, and I do not like it. I read these exchanges and do not like the way it is happening. But had these attacks been sober, I may have agreed with his friends. He claims that he does not care what others say. But friends let me tell you. It hurts, especially when people saying such stuff are known to you for years. Why he is doing it, I am not sure! But since last one week, he has stopped writing those tricky things on FB. I am all for freedom of expression, democracy and liberal thoughts. But when so many other intelligent people oppose your ideas, you cannot call them Hitler’s troops.

Then some activists have no technical knowledge of the subject; the subject can be a large dam, or national highway or a large chemical plant. There are always pluses and minuses in these discussions. But somehow these people fail to direct their activism in the right direction. Almost 45 to 50 years back Mr S L Kirloskar had asked a rhetoric question when in Pune road widening had started. Are the trees for us or we are there for trees? He suggested planting a lot of trees that could replace damaged trees in road widening.

Some of these mysterious writers have a penchant for digging out real-life and mythological stories. They link these stories with current technology and write stories of how our culture was ahead in science. We were ahead of the whole world in everything. There was an exciting story on WA about Ramdas Swami, Shivaji’s Guru. The story was about how Swamiji chose Shivthar Ghal, a valley,  to settle and wrote Dasbodh, famous treaties. The story had one Professor Bhopale. He went and took readings in that area and had a bank of modern equipment. Professor explains using a few technical words and reveals to us how no signal reached Shivthar Ghal. Then the story tells us how Ramdas Swami had this knowledge about Electrical signals. Swami selected the Ghal so that he could write Dasbodh in peace. No disturbance would be there whatsoever. These people had started a website on the subject, and some techno expert would reply, refuting all the probing questions. Come on, friends we all know that you don’t get electrical signals in some mountain areas, tunnels or inside the large buildings. The writer wanted to prove such claims to the gullible people in our society, and they succeeded to some extent. Why people do these things, I am not sure. There appears to be no way of making some money out of this scam. I still don’t know why this is done!

People have been sending write-ups in the name of Nana Patekar, Pu La Deshpande, Shivaji Maharaj and many such famous people. A recent addition to that list has been Ratan Tata. My friend Sudhakar is an expert on Pu La Deshpande literature. He quickly can find the fraud shared by these “ghost” writers. I am not sure why people do such things? Probably people have that hidden talent within them; what they write is good quality stuff but not ghost-written for celebrities, but pushed under their name. Some of them are long pieces and must be taking a great effort. I  rarely find any grammatical or spelling mistakes in them. Friends, could you share with me the logic behind making such efforts? To end, I will share one interesting story.

An individual called me one day. He started praising my blog writing. I jokingly told him, “Okay, I will give you a treat, but come to the point.” He said he would give me a subject every month. I should write a blog on that subject. I laughed and said, “I am yet to start “dial a blog service”, but still why do you want me to write.” He said, “You are a magnificent blogger. I will get your blog translated in Marathi, get your approval. Then I will make sure that the blog reached at least a hundred thousand people.” He definitely had some agenda (I know what it was), but I passed! I don’t want my blogs to be force circulated.

Does someone get stories mentioned above written from someone with an agenda? Please share those with me. I would love to read them; some have a good style!

Mahabaleshwar Jaunt!

This week, we had a quick family jaunt to Mahabaleshwar. We are in mid-April, and we were there on weekdays. The “season” apparently had not started. We had all the Mahabaleshwar to ourselves. There was no rush, no crowd, the atmosphere was peaceful, everywhere. I went to Mahabaleshwar after about three years. One thing I noticed was cleanliness. Where ever I went, to main market road, the “points” there was hardly any sign of Kachara. The hotels and restaurants where I went also were spick and span in this respect. I hope that this is a sign of things to come in future.

We visited the Kshetra Mahabaleshwar where there is a Mandir. The place is the source of five rivers Krishna/Koyana and others. Let me say this in advance that I am a little away from Mandir circuit and I may or may not enter all the Mandirs where I go. I do not want to say something to disturb anyone’s feelings, but I write about my observations. Outside this Mandir, on the left side, there is dry gutter with a sloping wall of a house. Every time we go to Kshetra Mahabaleshwar, I rest there while others visit the Mandir. It is an enjoyable place, and it has almost become a tradition for me to lie down while others go to the Mandir. This time I treated myself to a selfie!

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It was quite warm yet peaceful because there was no crowd. Though I was pleased personally, it must have been tough for shopkeepers, restaurants and business people in general. The place is generally choc a block with people. While I was lying down, I saw someone coming with two plastic bags full of small plastic empty bottles used for serving water. (especially on flights) These were delivered to a shop. Priya gave me an update that these are used by shopkeepers to sell “holy water” from the source of the river! I smiled. Priya did not buy.

I had “my time” for two consecutive days for slightly more than an hour. I left the hotel room at around six am. I had my cell phone with me on both occasions but only as a habit. On the first day, I walked to Kate’s point. The path was covered with tree arches with my friends chirping away to glory. On the second day, it was a lawn in the hotel, with a prominent raised platform where I could sit; no one else had woken up at that time when I sat in that place for an hour, I could distinguish at least 15 different bird species chirping. There may have been more, but my hearing capacity may not have been adequate to distinguish. There were trees around with a lot of flower plants. I went and checked each flower for details. Was I meditating? No, I had my eyes and ears open, and all I could hear was nature. The rustling of tree leaves, faint scents of flowers, beautiful mix in colour Kaleidoscope created by nature showing a vast range of colours. But HIS capability of producing so many shades of green was what impressed me the most. While taking my walk on the first day, the different varieties of trees with unique shapes, some had a lot of leaves and others were bare. Some trees had thick branches which had become horizontal due to nature’s forces. I wished at that time that I was at least ten years younger biologically. I would have surely climbed up to take a nap on them with a cool morning breeze around. Surprisingly, even our ancestors, the monkeys, were also sleeping.  One more selfie!

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We decided to visit the Pratapgad area, without the climb as we had Rhea with us and the temperature was against us. It was noon. We were in for a pleasant surprise. A village depicting times of Shivaji Maharaj was created. They charged a fee which was peanuts compared to what we saw. It was neat, the show was impressive. It seems that they have a small theatre where they show some films about Shivaji’s times. The statues they had created and the atmosphere were very impressive. The guide they had provided was enthusiastic, but she could have been trained better. The washrooms needed improvement according to Rhea’s report. I will suggest all my friends to visit this place. I have seen such a show for the first time in India; we have a lot of cultures and should create similar ways of letting others know about our history.

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On the spur of the moment, we decided to drive down to Kolhapur to go and take darshan of Devi Ambabai, before coming back to Pune. Our driver suggested that being a Friday, there could be a bit of rush, but it was manageable. I went to pay obeisance to Ambabai after a few years. Apparently, with the security situation prevailing, there are some changes made. Why all the visitors were told to remove footwear outside the premises, was not understood by me. It was around 3 pm; there was a scorching sun. There were some mats thrown in to walk on, but they were not adequate. Walking with no footwear appeared to be compulsory penance. What about very old and young? Even I had difficulty walking, but nobody seemed to mind. It is a practice to sit inside Mandir premises for 5 to 10 minutes. I feel that it is the correct practice. When you come to any Mandir, you should keep some time for HIM! It is not like you go to a restaurant, take a quick bite and go away. Unfortunately, there was no place to sit. Some people were sitting on the bare floor, luckily covered with a Shamiana to shield people from the Sun.

I always feel a bit out of place in any Mandir. I bow to God, I do Namaskar to God; people follow many different rituals. Whether they do it knowingly or unknowingly, I am not sure. While I was sitting in the Mandir, there was some chanting going on in another part of the Mandir. I asked a few people around to understand what was going on, but nobody seemed to know. Then I asked a lady running a shop about the chanting. She said that on every Friday, a Pujari chants one thousand names of goddess Ambabai. At least two hundred ladies were attending the chanting. They had a plate in front of them. I was told that they have a Yantra, a holy replica of Chakra in the dish. With each chant, the ladies were applying a small portion of Kumkum or Vermillion to the Yantra. I asked the lady what, what is the purpose of doing it, she smiled.

In India, we have a fascinating combination of modern way of life and traditions. I feel that whatever one’s belief’s, one must visit different parts of India to understand and see this great spectacle. Yes, in Ambabai Mandir too cleanliness was excellent but for a few pieces of plastic bags etc. I will share with you my experience of a visit to the Golden Temple many years back. Outside the Mandir, there is a vast empty area which was very clean. While we were waiting for our car to arrive, I saw someone drop some paper on the ground. Nobody said anything to that person. The moment that person was away, a volunteer came and picked up the trash. They did not argue with the person nor did they humiliate him. They call it “Kar Seva”! In Hindu temples also we should start the culture of Kar Seva. Let us spread the culture. For those who do not know about Kar Seva, the volunteer services are offered by poor people as well as wealthy people on their own. God brings everyone to an equal level!

Right or Wrong!

A friend shared with me a document about a disputed asset usage by a well-known private organisation. As I do not like to go into political disputes and discussions, I am sharing my general thoughts on the subject. I am not talking about what happens the world over, but I will restrict the discussion under Indian scenario. I will not be specific about names and projects for obvious reasons.  

Air, Sunlight and Water are three primary natural resources. Air and Sunlight are unlimited, but potable water is not! Water may be abundant in the sea, but fresh water is not unlimited. The availability of potable water in the right places at the right time is also critical. That is going to be essential in future. Any new asset creation is controlled by availibility round the year. Like in Rajasthan, the government is putting Sunlight to good use by putting up a large number of Solar plants. In various areas in different states, wind energy is harnessed by putting up windmills for power generation. The asset I am discussing is water. Government is taking up measures to catch rainwater by inexpensive methods in the state. Creating dams, diverting river water are long term projects and take huge money and a lot of time. So instead of going for complex ideas, it will make sense to achieve this by more straightforward methods.   

The specific document shared by the friend is talking about a contract this private company and the then British government. I am sure that since the project is enormous, there must have been a legal contract between the government and the company. Assume that a similar agreement is made between today’s government with a multinational. Will the deal be challenged after 100 years? The only difference would be the original contract I am talking about was with the British Government in India of those times. The hypothetical case that I have said is about the contract with sovereign government of India. Let us not forget that India as we know today, did not exist before 1947.  

When I read the document shared by my friend, thoughts about the problems discussed in the report look unimportant to me. A society, a government and hence the nation works on ethics that is followed. The document demands that the old contract made by the company with the government should be annulled. The resources used by the company should be used for the benefits of the rural poor and farmers in the different area of the state, deficient in water.  

If we take this logic further, which agreement should remain valid? There are significant beneficiaries of assets due to awards made by Shivaji Maharaj. It was the method of those times. To keep the different sardars together, they were awarded large chunks of land. Sardars would collect the taxes from the people in the area and share taxes with the Shivaji’s government. It was the way of paying sardars for the services rendered by them to Shivaji. During the last 50 to 70 years, land prices all over are shooting up. The descendants of the sardars have enjoyed the fruits of the ancestral property they had received from Shivaji. Some have become multimillionaires by selling the land, and a few have become billionaires! Should the gift that was given to these families be valid today? Was that land not owned by somebody else? Honestly, I have no issue with the old system, but it should be consistent to all, whether an individual is involved or a company is involved.  

These days there is a lot of discussion going on about poor farmers and their issues. These need to be handled with a lot of genuine care and love. Add to this the problems that come up because of market vagaries; farmers do not get reasonable rates and many a time they have to sell their products at a loss, as the product is perishable. But lest we forget, there is an equal number of poor living in the towns and cities. They live in squalid conditions and have a daily struggle to make two ends meet! When we talk of “helping” the rural poor, we should also find ways to “help” urban poor.  

What has this company done? When they took over the assets, they built dams to produce electricity. Remaining water after production was used by (and is still being used) poor people from certain area. The power helped Bombay to grow in the last century. In those days private industries did not have the money to take up such massive operations. Does the contract have an end date for the lease? Does it have an escape clause from the deal? If this contract is valid then what is the reason to ask the company to opt out of it?  

Before 1947, many things had happened for which land and other assets were taken over by the government. Indian Railway is a prime example of this. Does it mean that old owners now should be compensated for the land at today’s rates by paying the difference? Mughals in their time had given lands as an award or a reward to many. Are these contracts to be reopened? These contracts were also not made with Indian Government after 1947. Airports, Harbours were built in olden days and continue to be used after modernisation by the Indian Government. Is it only because an asset similarly is used (in the language of people against this- exploited) by private industry, it is wrong 

A valid contract between any two parties, the government or private is a contract that should continue. The demand mentioned in the document, has  asked the government to change the agreement and use the water as deemed suitable by this group of people.  

There is one valid argument. The contract was created more a hundred years back. Requirements of those times were different as there was hardly any industrialisation and urbanisation. Availability of natural resources was also different, per capita. With increased population, the reduction in per capita availability is causing stresses, and hence there can be a demand to use natural resources for a different reason. Saying this is easy but to bring such significant changes into practice will be extremely complex, and very expensive. So instead of using existing resources for a new use, invest the same money for creating the required infrastructure.  

It is said that the future wars will be about water. Is this dispute forerunner of things to come in future? I am sure good offices will prevail, and the situation will be resolved sensibly without any coercion.

What is right or wrong, only time will tell!

 

 

Hats Off!

I read an article about a song and dance program held in Cipla Center of Palliative Care, in Pune. The article was written by the lady who was the main performer. She knew that this centre gives palliative care for Cancer probably terminal patients. The program was for the entertainment of these patients. She was apprehensive as she had never done this before. She was wondering how these patients will accept her program. The program was to create the joyous atmosphere in these patient’s lives. She reached the venue and the hall started filling up with patients. Some walking in, carrying their own drips, some coming in the wheelchairs. Then a few beds were brought in. The lady was awed by what was happening and she did not know what to expect. Patients were brought in to the arena on gurneys and transferred to their beds!

The program started and the rhythm picked up! Some of the patients started blowing whistles, as is the tradition in Tamasha songs. People started clapping and shouting. The peak of the show was when one of the lady patients, lying on an inclined bed started moving to the rhythm. She was very ill. She was wearing a Saree. In her bed, she did some sensuous movements using Pallu of her Saree! What courage? What attitude?

Here was a lady, very sick. Maybe terminally sick and I am sure she knew it! But she was not only enjoying the moment but her attitude must have given encouragement to other patients. It is such people who make this world a great place to be in! These people are the beacons of society. The lady did what was unthinkable though at the back of her mind she must have known that these were her last months on the earth. How do such people have the courage to look death in the face? Yamraj must have thought after tracking her activity, why not keep this lady on this earth for a longer time and make earth a better place! I am writing this based on the article written by the performer. I do not know anything about the lady but I feel like getting up and to go and give the lady a hug! Hats Off Mam!

Hatsoff2

We have read about historical accounts where people have reacted bravely knowing that their action would result in an imminent death for them. The battle of Sinhagad fort during Shivaji’s time is the classic case. Tanaji and his cousin Suryaji attacked at night and climbed the treacherous fort using ropes. In the battle, Tanaji died and Suryaji took over. The soldiers panicked and started to run back towards the ropes. Tanaji’s uncle Shelar mama cut the ropes. Soldiers had no option but to come back and fight. Marathas won that battle. Shelar mama took the action of cutting the ropes thereby he took a grave risk where his own life was also in danger. He knew that they could lose and that he would surely get killed. But he was not afraid of this eventuality. He took this decision knowing the grave risk to him. Such people make the armies that win the battles. Picture of Sinhgad Fort below.

Sinhagad

There was the similar battle of Pavan Khind. Shivaji Maharaj was trapped on Panhala fort and decided to try and escape to Vishalgad. But his escape was found by the enemy quickly. They started hot pursuit to capture Shivaji. Baji Prabhu Deshpande suggested to Shivaji to move further and waited at Pavan Khind which was a narrow pass. He fought with a small army and fought the enemy till Shivaji reached Vishalgad. When Shivaji reached Vishalgad he ordered two gunshots to be fired as a signal of safe arrival, to Baji Prabhu. Baji Prabhu though was severely hurt fought valiantly till he heard the signal. His death was imminent but still, he volunteered to save Shivaji. Painting depicting Pavan Khind battle.

PawanKhind

Next is one example which gives me goose pimples, even thinking about it! This is about a friend of mine Prakash. He is a happy guy but I never knew that he was made of steel! Rather his mind was made of steel, his body was not! He has been trekking and used to travel all over India. After completing one of his treks, he was returning to Delhi to fly back to Pune. After the episode, he remembered that there was some scratch mark on his right hand which started the episode. He ignored it as he thought that it was a scratch due to something pointed from a bush.

As he reached near Delhi, he started feeling very uneasy. Within a matter of hours, he realized that skin on his right-hand was looking different. It looked very harsh and gangrenous. His hand looked shocking to the naked eye. He reached Delhi and went straight to the airport and wanted to travel back to Pune. Airline staff correctly refused to take him on the flight. He spoke with home and within a short period of time things got organized. He immediately rushed to a major hospital where some family friends also arrived. Luckily the correct treatment in ICU was started immediately. His family travelled immediately to Delhi but I am sure that nobody was prepared to the saga that was to unravel!

He was diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria)! One of the rarest things that can happen to humans. The death rate in such cases is as high as 30%. He was lucky to be in Delhi where excellent doctors and facilities were available. The link below gives details of this condition.

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/necrotizing-fasciitis-flesh-eating-bacteria#2

During the treatment, most of the flesh from his right arm, about 3 to 4 inches from shoulder, had to be removed and bones were totally exposed. Doctors could arrest the progress of the attack. What happened was simply horrible. A normal person would have been extremely nervous, could have gone into depression. But not our Pakya. He and his family took it in a very positive way. Just guess how much time it took for the arm to get to almost normal? About 4 years maybe more! His arm was rebuilt stage by stage with plastic surgeries. I am sure you will agree with me that Pakya is made of steel! I will just share one detail which will show Prakash’s grit and determination. During the final rebuilding phase of his hand, his right hand was stitched, yes stitched to the stomach for a couple of weeks so that proper skin grafting could take place!

What makes such people so strong? We read a lot of war stories where kids in their early 20’s show valour that will make any society proud! What gives them the inner strength? Since Prakash is a friend from college days, I know him quite well. But I never thought that he would have such a steely determination. This strait is only in a very few people and I consider it is my luck and honour that Pakya is my friend! Hats Off Buddy!

Hatsoff1

 

Human facets!

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!

Blog or an Article?

Blog is defined as a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group that is written in an informal or conversational style. And an article is a piece of writing included with others in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication.  I don’t publish anything in any newspaper but I publish all my writings on my BlogSpot panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com, so now I am in two minds when to call, what I write, a blog or an article. I simply publish when I think that I am ready with my stuff. These thoughts came to my mind because after my last blog “Traditionally speaking…” Jaya felt that it did not feel like a blog. Yes I had also felt the same thing when I published it. I did not want to express my deep thoughts or conflicts and concerns in my mind, on the subject of Tradition. But it was something I felt, I must write about. When any subject starts churning in my mind, the churning stops only when I write about it.

We can say that blog is like IT industry where most are on first name basis and things are pretty informal. Article is like Finance or Engineering industry with stiff upper lip! What is easier to write? I feel that article writing is easier for me to write, because it rarely contains deep thoughts, at least for me. It is woven around  major public events or a public figure. Whereas blogs are generally about small events in personal life. It’s really funny that major public events invoke dry, maybe indifferent, thought process in me. Whereas, a very small personal event invokes a major thought process deep in my mind. In both cases it is my own writing but treatment it gets from my mind is different or maybe even indifferent! End result is also different. Why does it happen that way?

I feel that blog and article are siblings from the same mould, who think different, look different. Siblings are born from same parent but their behavior or look is quite different. This made me think of various famous pairs that exist in the world. They are very significant in our lives because of the messages they send you and thoughts they generate in our mind.

First and foremost pair that comes to mind is “Adam & Eve”! This pair has supposedly started our world and have created the society as we know it today. None of the pairs can be as dissimilar but as tightly bound as Adam and Eve. This pair is very much alike in certain aspects but totally dissimilar in many others. They have supposedly come from Venus and Mars! They are very similar about loving their kids but are totally opposite in social behavior, just to give an example. What does this relation tell us about life? Persons having totally different nature, still can work together very closely and raise the most difficult product in the world, the family! Theirs is a relationship which can be ideal relationship in the sense they have their ups and downs but finally they reach their ultimate goal in spite of differences!

 Another pair is that of Rabbit and Tortoise from the childhood stories that we hear. They are obviously very different; look at the Rabbit looking swift and sharp and young. Tortoise looking steady, and mature. What message do they give; obvious message is slow and steady wins the race! But with time, many things have changed and along with that the interpretation has also changed. Now in the fast world that we live in, the saying is be fast and furious but also make sure that you don’t relent in what your goal is! Don’t go to sleep like the rabbit did, on the way to glory!

Sun and the Moon is another pair in the same mold. These two are celestial bodies formed millions of years ago but compliment each other. We say that it is  day when we can see the Sun, but it is not night every time we see the moon. They are a pair where Sun is the boss and the Moon reports to him. Sun always shines and Moon can shine only when Sun is not there. Moon has to always follow subordinates’ role but never minds to stay in background when Sun is around. Sun sometimes totally hides or overwhelms the Moon, during eclipse. But Moon keeps on doing its routine job, always. It never gets flustered with his job or with the Sun. Consistently doing your job without ever getting into limelight is what we learn from this pair!

Santaji and Dhanaji were two warriors from the time of Shivaji. They were brave, brilliant and were not afraid to die for their king! The enemies were so afraid of this pair that enemies could not sleep well. Even when the enemies were at the water holes for a drink, any slight unknown movement would cause panic in them and they would think that Santaji/Dhanaji have come. This would make them run helter-skelter! How did this happen? This pair was the epitome of loyalty, bravado of Shivaji’s sardars and made sure that enemy was under great fear all the time. These are the qualities that can be beneficial for all us. This also indicated the fruits of being excellent and focussed in ones field.

Friends from my confusion in deciding about my piece of writing, if it is a blog or an article, I ended up writing a blog about different pairs that we encounter in real world. I was able to extract the meaning of the existence of such and tried to analyze their relevance and importance. There are many such pairs like, Hitler & Mussolini, Gilchrist and Hall, Ramanathan Krishnan and Jaydeep Mukherjee. These are not necessarily “good” pairs!  These pairs are always complement each other as individuals and manage to change the equation 1 plus 1 is not 2 but 11!

 Oh! I ended up writing blog, that is for sure!

Forward/Backward or what?

Somethings move forward or go backward. Word forward elucidated the movement or a player’s position in Hockey or Football. A country was developed or under developed, sometimes called backward. But as things change in life the meanings of words change too. Now the word forward implies the action of sending a message, received by someone, to the next person or a group (mostly in a hurry!) on WhatsApp!

This word has become very important in our lives but it brings out different emotions from various people. Persons are so excited on WhatsApp that if they receive a message and they like it, in their excitement, they are very uncomfortable if message is not forwarded. It is like a game of pass the parcel! They will not even bother to check if the message has been recently forwarded on the same group. I have seen same message forwarded on the same group, by different people, within 2 to ten minutes of each other, five times! Have these folks read the forwarded message..nah.. no way (in most cases)

Some are very uncomfortable if too many forwards are received by them. As in life, in this new medium of WhatsApp, there are likes & dislikes, pros and cons of doing various things. We are all learning to live in harmony. I feel that a good idea will be to define a “Forward”.

My definition of a Forward” is as below.

A message received by a person

o   Which cannot be verified

o   Message in which the sender may not believe- people find a way out by saying “forwarded as received”. To me all forwards are “forwarded as received”.

o   Which is known not to be proven or proven in a small sample size

o   So called stories assigned to dignitaries

o   Anything derogatory to a race, religion or to political persons

o   Suddenly flooding with 10/20/30 messages on the same subject

o   Suddenly remembering old unknown patriots with some unknown stories and glorifying them.

o   Glorifying India’s greatness by discussing things from mythology and trying to prove how we were scientifically advanced.

o   Jingoistic stories of patriotism

o   And many more

What according to me is not a forward?

An article, poem, painting created by an individual is not a forward. In a close group of friends, relatives sharing a link about something of common interest is not a forward. For example in an alumni group if they share some news link about the Alma Mater or about a classmate, I will not treat it as a forward. Sharing a link about some new things of current common interest for example “cashless transactions” is a non-forward. But sharing old story link of recession in 2008 will be a forward. Of course this statement can be challenged and there could be improved suggestions. It’s about trial and error being done on a new medium. Sharing normal news items is a big no no! Suddenly you start getting so called home photos where Jayalalitha supposedly lived? Why would groups be interested in such photos? You may suddenly get a battery 20 photos giving details of home remedies! Oh come on! Every family has its home remedies!

There is always a question asked if we cannot send “forwards” what do we do on a group? Well on one group I see that people put puzzles and discuss them and dissect them for a couple of hours to many hours. On the same group suddenly a discussion started about the hostel stay from college time. If there is a will one can discuss many different topics but people always want to find an easy way out. On some groups people discuss songs, one of the friends is a painter who shares his paintings with others. Some people share photos taken by them or their family members.

Advent of WhatsApp has proliferated Ultracrepidarian – it is pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise. At the same time the “non-forward” group objects to information, link, article shared by an expert in that field. This is treated as breaking the rule!  I understand that it is tough to find a golden mean.There is a sudden proliferation of people who have become experts on demonetization, in medical field, internet, and old mythology, Shivaji, lately on Jayalalitha and on majority of the subjects existing on the earth. This is because they just “forward” messages on any of the subjects. When challenged they get very excited and try to defend the forwards without any knowledge on the subject. When all their arguments fail they go to the last resort “Forwarded as received”. I tried to question this “Forwarded as received” by someone, I asked him if you did not believe in a message why did you forward it? He replied, “Just in case it is right, it may be useful to someone!” I had no argument on this statement. I am talking about the persons who are professionals and who have worked in large organizations and have seen the world. The interesting aspect is they don’t “own” the forward so why the need to justify? Ego?

The suggestion of non-forwards group is fought valiantly with freedom of speech argument! But what about freedom of not receiving stuff which is not sent by known people, which is not verifiable, which cannot be proven? At the end, non-forward thinkers can prevail only if they are patient, persistent and logical.  

I will finally tell a story of extent to which people go and try to prove things and create stories and forwards out of the same. A story suddenly started circulating on WhatsApp about Shivthar Ghal, a valley in which Ramdas swami, Shivaji’s guru, lived. The story came with a website link about the valley. The story said that this Valley is a very special space and world’s ultimate place, where no signals from anywhere in the world reach. Ok I agree and be done with it. But story does not end there. It says that Ramdas swami wrote the treaties, Dasbodh, in the valley because of the ultimate peace the valley provided, as no signals could reach the valley. To prove this, a so called satellite signal scientist Bhopale was created. He is supposed to have tested with 24 satellite devices that no signals reached the valley. A curious person will naturally write to the website about apprehensions. They had engineer available to reply to such queries in a scientific language so that one felt that well may be it is possible! Ramdas Swami died in the year 1681! My current tools, including Google, are still searching which type of signals were present in Shivthar Ghal at that time.  When there were no signals there was peace anyway! When you drive through a long tunnel, you lose your FM signal, is it not?