16th August 1995 to 23rd September 2018!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Confluence of Goodness!

अगर धीरे चलो
वह तुम्हे छू लेगी
दौड़ो तो छूट जाएगी नदी
अगर ले लो साथ
वह चलती चली जाएगी कहीं भी
यहाँ तक- कि कबाड़ी की दुकान तक भी
छोड़ दो 

These are a few lines from the Poet Kedarnath Singhji’s poem नदी. नदी means a river. The poet has used the river as a metaphor for background support that we get from different people in our life’s journey. Our life’s journey begins with our coming into this world in the mother’s womb. Beginning of our existence is not known even to our parents for some time! In normal course, no couple is thinking of a child being created, when they are in an intimate embrace. It is the nature that supports you during this phase of anonymity. This is our first river in the form of Amniotic fluid in the mothers womb! How can someone support you, help you, when they don’t even know that you exist?  

In the lines above, the poet says that you go with the river, you meander with its flow and it will let you go where you want to go, it will follow you, where ever you go. Her support will be unstinting, with no returns expected. You need to understand it’s rhythm. The poet has explained it beautifully and says that if you take the river to a scrap collector, it will go with you. If you go to flea market, it will follow you. A flea market (or swap meet) is a type of bazaar that rents or provides space to people who want to sell or barter merchandise. Used goods, cheap items, collectibles, and antiques are commonly sold. This is how unstinting the river support is! But you take up wrong way of  life and the river may break its umbilical cord with you.  

In many cultures the river is like one’s mother, caring, supporting, she is always there in the background. A child is tethered to the mother. This is world’s closest relationship and mother always wants to keep on supporting the child irrespective of situation, age. This is the everlasting or evergreen relationship. In this relationship virtual umbilical cord always remains in place, at least from mother’s side.  

In our life, we have many people supporting us, they are there in the background. They will go with you even on the rough path of your journey! How does this happen? How are such relationships formed? Mother child relationship is the most natural relationship, it just exists like the universe. Bearing and giving birth to a child is nature for female species; this closeness creates such a close relationship between the two. In this relationship nothing needs to be done to attain the level of closeness, it just happens. But for other relationships this is to be nurtured over a period.   

As our journey starts from childhood to adulthood we meet different people. We meet them in different situations, under different circumstances. We live with siblings in our home but as we grow older, each develops into a different person and has own personality, own thought process. Do siblings always have very close relationship? They grow up in the same house, they grow up with the same background. But are they behind each other to support? Not necessarily. Except for parents all other relationships need to be cultivated, nurtured. One cannot assume that others will be there in the background to support you like the river. 

Why is river important in life? The river encompasses our lives, it absorbs whatever we throw at it. Its water body is big and fluid all the time; so, it has a great absorbing capacity. Its flow purifies all bad things dumped into it. Similarly, our mind should also have fluid thought process, it should be able to absorb new things, it should be able to absorb changes in the way situation demands. It should be able to throw out bad things from our life. Our mind, like river, has incredible capacity to take good or bad things. Our mind should learn the process of turning bad into good, like the river.  

In our life, we have many sets of rivers in the form of different persons like friends, acquaintances, relatives. To absorb good from these people, is in our hands. There is a saying that birds with the same feathers flock together. Similarly, good will always prefer to be with good; the good have power to absorb bad! In Varanasi, there is a tradition to dump dead bodies in the river in the river Ganga; we dump drainage water in the river without treating it. But the flow of the river, and the volume of water (which is the goodness) takes care of these things and water remains pure!  

Friends, life is full of things which are good, bad and ugly. But if we as a society, get the humans together like confluence of rivers, bad and ugly things will get defeated. The society, a group of people, a colony, people in a building should come together and form river of goodness, there will be confluence of these rivers and we will be able to create a quietly flowing big river of goodness.  

 

 

Who packed my Parachute?

My friend Vivek sends me some beautiful videos and stories. One story he sent me, is a story about a fighter pilot, who was required to para jump out of his airplane. Pilot asks a question, “Who packed my parachute?” For the pilot, parachute is the backup that is life and death for him. In our lives all of us have someone in the back ground who packs our parachutes. Not all of us are pilots and not all our situations are life and death situations. But day to day  situations arise where we need support.

In case of the pilot, his official back up system which has the safety person, who handles important function of packing his Parachute, performing this duty to perfection! I felt that “Packing the Parachute” is a metaphor for support system in our everyday life. In our lives, we also have parachute packers. They are always working in background and they are relentless and selfless in their work. Nature of this work is quite serious, this needs to be done consistently day in and day out. We think that practice sorties taken by Airforce pilots are very important for the safety of our nation but the parachute packers like those who pack the parachute, those who perform the maintenance of the Aero planes are equally important. The Airforce pilots are parachute packers for the nation’s defense!

In humans and other species, mothers pack the parachute till the baby is on its own. Only thing that changes is the duration of this initial support system. In birds it may be a few days, in humans it is till the child becomes independent. But in the mind of the mothers in humans, this support system lasts life-long! How does this happen? Why this is done? Such  support system is without any expectation from the child in return! Mothers have carried their child in the wombs and this creates an affinity that cannot be described, it cannot be explained. It is just there. Even when one becomes older, the mothers have a knack of knowing what is happening in your mind, if something is wrong with your health, when you need physical support or mental support. The mothers will leave everything else, to pack the Parachute for the child.

Unstinted support that is given is sometimes not known to us and is most unexpected. I have shared this story in a blog in March 2014. When a dangerous industrial safety situation arose in a factory, the plant was evacuated. The plant-in-charge and a colleague decided to inspect the situation. Things were brought under control by their actions. When the in-charge turned to go away from the danger zone, after finding things were under control, he saw 4/5 workers standing just behind him. He said, “I told you to evacuate, why did you come inside?” The reply was, “Sir, when you were in a dangerous situation, we were just behind you to help, if needed!”.

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These are Parachute packers of our life. In our life we have friends, family and others who may not be close to you on day to day basis. These persons or group of people are just there behind you, just in case, if needed. How does this happen? What makes people think differently than others? Is it the love between two humans, not necessarily equals? Is it inborn in the people? In normal course your parents, sibling’s, close relatives and friends are expected to be such people, but there have been instances when this group of people have remained spectators. Your parachute packer, lurking in the background, raised his hand! 

Do we work on creating such support system? Is such support quid pro quo? No, it is definitely not quid pro quo! Such people are simply born that way. Like mothers, these people also pack your parachute because they just want to do it! Who does not need parachute packers in their lives? I feel that all of us, need such people in our lives. It is simply because money can’t buy everything. There are some situations where you may have financial where withal but that does not get support you are looking for; you may be two minds about the decision to be taken in a tough situation. You may feel lost in a situation; Parachute packers are there to you in the background. You go to them and they will help you. Or maybe sometimes they will come to help you without your calling them. 

In case of the Parachute packer for the pilot, parachute packing is his job, it is his work. But I am talking of those who support others on their own, because they just want to do so. I will share with you a story about a professional. He was a very smart professional in technical marketing field. He had exceled in his job and everything looked hunky dory, from a distance. One day he went to see a friend of his. They were good friends but did not meet regularly. Our man told his friend, let’s go out somewhere. They went and settled near a lake; the guy looked very upset and tense. He said, please help me I have an issue in my job. The problem was that gentleman had simply started hating his job; and going to office, daily,  was a big “No, No” for him. He did not have any professional issue, and he was not sure what caused this. He also said that once he felt like committing suicide. His friend talked to him for some time and helped him to decide to quit that job. He nursed him back to normalcy. The gentleman took another job and is very happy with his life for last 30 years. The person who did this is a close friend of mine. I asked him why this friend came to him? He is still not sure, but my friend spent almost 3 months in nursing that person back to routine; they have met only once after that episode in, 30 years!

Why was my friend approached in this situation? My analysis is that my friend is a great listener, he is a person with empathy, he is very sharp and can judge things in correct perspective, quickly. He is not afraid to call spade a spade! And most important is that during this critical phase took special efforts to find time for this gentleman who was in difficulty! Is that description of a Parachute Packer? I don’t know but my description should be at least 85% correct. Friends could you help me in finding balance 15% qualities which I could not define? I wish I had at least 50% of these qualities in me! Happy Parachuting!

Complex circles called Life!

 

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Today I came across this poem, it could be about a Mother. I will be swapping term mother for parents during the blog as in relationships , mother is prominent. आई, जननी, माता, मा are different names of the  epitome of human relationship. This relationship is one that cannot be compared with anything else in the world.  Mother is the ultimate giver and in the end also she is giving her last but lasting and valuable suggestion,  to us about letting her go!

Only a child and the mother have real closeness during pregnancy before the child is born. Their heart and breathing patterns have the same rhythm during this period. The term “cutting of Umbilical Cord” is used when time comes in Guru Chela type of relationship, to part! Once this Cord is cut, the child slowly gets away from common rhythm; if the child is upset or crying, the mother holds the child to the bosom, the child probably recollects the old rhythm and starts to quieten down. This is the strength of the rhythm.  The child starts growing, the influence of mother starts diluting because of many more interactions with the real world.  Mother feels that her child is going away from her. Child starts recognizing  friends, cousins, uncles, later on associates and the list is ever increasing. Though the intensity may not change, time together starts reducing. The mothers go out of their way to raise, teach their children about life in general. They educate them, they help them physically to learn to walk, talk, and sing and what have you. Mother is the All in One teacher of everything for the child. Mothers do so many sacrifices for their child, but it will be separate subject for discussion.

When the mother teaches the child about growing up, she teaches the child many things including relationship after marriage. Post marriage dilution is the biggest one and mother sometimes find it very difficult to handle. Dilution also occurs on arrival of more children in family. In all this teaching, mothers tend to forget to “learn”. When a person gets married, in the initial phase the closest inner circle will be Husband-Wife, next will be Parents from both sides in a tight circle; these two circles may cross each other regularly. Siblings, grandparents are in the next circle. When a child arrives in the marriage, the inner most circle is naturally Husband, Wife and Child. Parents get shifted to slightly loose outer circle and similar shifting takes place for all circles. As the children grow, Parent’s support system may not be needed and the “tight” outer circle becomes a normal outer circle with corresponding shifts in other circle.

Later, Parents grow older and in reverse they may need some support. This is where the unfortunate but unavoidable struggle starts. The support could be physical, financial and mental support. Physical support means actual physical support, this can be provided by children themselves or by supporting staff. Financial support depends on the means jointly available with the family or individually with parents. Mental support is one which is tricky. Children are busy in their own things and their availability for parents may  reduce. But the mother is always comprehensible, intelligible and straight forward. In most cases she knows how to remain a little distant as situation demands.

The poem above, reflects the thought process of a parent, at sunset of life. Parent suggests that children should let go when their time to go arrives. This is the ever giving nature of the parent, who wants to help children to deal with the tough situation.

Now a practical person in me is stirred and some thoughts came in mind.  Our society has changed a lot, in last 50 years and many good things have happened but some tough situations are bound to be there. In olden days, in my Grandfathers time joint family was the norm and now nuclear family is the norm. In olden days life spans were much shorter. Now with better treatments, medicines longevity has gone up. So there will be many parents who will be around for a long time and they will be  “with problems”.

How can the children give back? Is there a mandate to give back? No I don’t think so. I also hear a discussion about giving back to society! In the “giving back” culture, should your parents come at the top of hierarchy? Its a tough call in busy life! Especially if you do not live in the same city. I see and hear about such situations regularly. How do I solve my dilemma? Mom can you help him resolve this one last time?

 

By God’s Grace !

I had shared some photos, taken by me,  on Facebook and WhatsApp with friends. My friend Vijay sent me the following message.

“When you see this kind of natural spectacles you get immersed in the vastness- be it Skies- Oceans- huge land spreads- deserts- green lush spreads- mountains and – – – – I don’t know what happens to others, but I get God feelings……”

Vijay, you stole the words from me! This world is so full of good things, that sometimes it is difficult to be negative. This is too general a statement, life can be tricky, tough and sad for many. Usually there are two extremes in everything. But it averages out in most cases, life is made of good and the bad things. Since things yo yo between good and bad, we can enjoy the good part. But I always wonder, why some people always take things negatively.

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When they are in negative mode, they take advise from palmists, gurus and believe in and perform some very weird rituals! I know of someone who is not keeping well for some time; the sickness is pretty bad and almost irreversible. I can understand that person trying different non-conventional options. Along with this, the methods mentioned above are also tried out. Since, this person’s medical case is bad, it is understood that person remains in negative frame of mind.  But due to negative frame of mind, that person follows same extreme methods and thought process, for any small thing going wrong with the family. Except that person’s major illness, nothing abnormal is happening in the family. Someone changing a job, someone having temporary setback in business, it’s is all treated in the same way, very negatively!

Why people think this way? How they become so negative? All of us, always see the same things in the world, same sky, same trees, same clouds and rain, feel the same weather, listen to the same birds. But facilities of some persons get shut to such feelings. With this frame of mind, they disturb the atmosphere in homes, though unwittingly. (One queer thing I observe when I take my walk in the morning. People have ear buds and they are either listening to songs or talking on  cell phone, while walking! Nature for them doe not exist)

I know of another family who had land disputes, ancestral family disputes and what have you. There was always tense situation in the home, within the family, within extended family! The siblings had stopped talking with one sibling since last thirty years. Once while having a coffee with one of the sibling, the same old subject came out. Of course, the situation was explained to us, vehemently. At the end when the things cooled down a bit, they got excited even while explaining to me, I asked a simple question. What did all of you gain? They had no answer. Then I said is it ok if explain the situation. They said ok. I said, ” You all did not talk your one sibling for thirty years.” All included their mother too! I further said, ” You have lost that precious time when there could have been so many enjoyable moments.” End of story is, there is no progress in property dispute. The case has not even gone to court! There were skirmishes within other siblings also, so there was no agreement about anything!

People believe in reincarnation, but I am a firm believer of one life! At any time during our life time, we do not know how much more time we have on this earth; it could be one second, it could be many more years! God is great and by His Grace so many good things are there right in front of us. God has given great brain to humans and it has been used mostly in a very productive and gainful manner. These days you dream of somethings which is considered fictional, at that time. In next ten or twenty years, these things are already there in real life use. That is also a beauty that we tend to miss.

Our generation, which is around 70, has seen so much variation that according to me it is more than enough for three life times. Some people take it in a very positive manner and some people keep on cribbing. They say, these days things are not as they were in our times. I tell them, “This is our time”! Some of us are lucky that with their goodish health, and reduced or no responsibilities, they can really enjoy life. They can travel, they can chat with friends, some people are called out of their retirement to give back more by some organizations. Some have started painting. My friends Anil and Pravin are enjoying their full love for music. Anil plays saxophone professionally and Pravin has formed his troupe and gives shows, where they sing melodious songs to different themes. These things my friends, are possible only because of His Grace!

I know of some families, who have suffered all the time for years together. But I have seen some of them who still have smile on their face. I asked a friend whose family has suffered with many setbacks for a long time, the secret of his smile. I asked him the secret of positivity. He said, ” Pramod, we have a tendency to blame HIM when things go wrong; but we forget to thank HIM when good things happen for us. So, if you remember that everything is due to God’s Grace, it is very easy to remain positive”.

I am sharing more of His Grace below! Nature most of times has only good sides. The photos above and photos below were Sunrise and Sunset on the same day!

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