Money, Money, Money!

Memories are more valuable than money!

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Money, Money, Money is a famous song sung by Abba, released in 1976, four years after the group was formed. This song became very famous but Money has been famous for a long time. Money can do wonders, money can give you happiness but it can break families. Fights and disputes over money are as old as alcohol, prostitution and smoking! I am not surprised with any story that reaches us. For me this is good song but I have never liked its meaning!

From the beginning it will be a good idea to teach children about money, its importance but they also must be trained to understand that it is just a vehicle for our journey, called life. Having money and donating part of it should be taught in our curriculums! I have seen that richest of the rich are happy as well as sad. I have seen that poorest of the poor are also equally happy and sad. It is how we handle the money, how we approach it is more important. Bill Gates is classic example that needs to be emulated by all. He has found the real meaning of money. He has so much money, that it is almost immaterial to even discuss about it. But he has made it the mission of his life to donate his money for good cause; this cause also keeps his intellect busy. 

I am never surprised or amazed by stories I hear and read! Latest one I heard is about a family, unfortunately, already it was a broken family. As it is, in broken families, relations are pretty difficult and strained. Here is a family, parents divorced ages back, both remarried for years. All interactions have always been veering towards instability. Father from this family was unwell for quite some time, with dementia. Both siblings were in forties and one of them not yet settled, financially and otherwise. The other sibling was settled and staying in a foreign country. When Father died, the information started coming about his finances. The mother had taken away all the assets of the father under the garb of dementia; nobody knew when she got the necessary power of attorney to transfer everything in her name! Nobody knew about this and suddenly information came out, about this discrete action. End result, the broken family was fully broken, they were at least on talking terms, once in a while! Of course, I don’t know all the details but vows must have been taken by the offended parties not to see the mothers face again, ever. Why was mother so greedy about the money? In her second marriage she was already quite well off!  

Why do the humans behave this way? Assuming that I only know one side of the story, there was hardly any reason for the mother to cheat, that too at the age of 65 plus! There is a law about distribution of assets when a person dies. Is money so important in life, that one is ok with the situation of zero contacts, with children and grand-children? What is sufficient money? After the age of 65 plus how much money are you going to need? What can one do with the money? What is the idea of happiness and joy of these persons? Is blowing money joy? Is cheating your own children joy?  

Another story that I know is about a family with many brothers and a sister. 25 to 30 years back there was a dispute about family home in the native place. The sister once suggested that she may be legally allowed to use one room in the big home, during her life time. Why this demand was made I would not know, she could have used it, anyway! This demand started the Mahabharat. All these years, the brothers and mother did now “see their sisters face”! It led to some court case where they would come face to face in the court of law. One of the brothers and his wife once came for a cup of coffee to my house. One thing led to the other. I casually asked them if they will be visiting their family member from sister’s side, in the neighborhood; they were closely related to the sister! “Over my dead body” was the reaction! This was nothing but shear ego! There is one beautiful message I saw on the Facebook. At the bottom it says, “Type Yes if you agree!” I am sure all of you will agree with this message.

.facebook_1533908762019.jpgThis sort of attitude had cut off interactions with the next generation cousins, for not their fault. When this issue had started the eldest of the children from next generation,  must have been about 15. Now the post-script! 30 plus years have passed and a lot of water has gone down the bridge! Two brothers have died, the mother has died! Cousins rarely speaks with each. Remaining brothers and the sister talk to each other, maybe once in a year. Yes, and there is further news! One of the remaining brothers, who is a lawyer, has started a court case claiming that the whole property was “given” to him by his mother, when she died! Wow! This is the only word that comes to mind! 

Ego of one generation, has totally broken up relations between a family! What was the benefit? Zero because in such situations the result is always negative and all miss out so much in life. The real concept of family and ownership in human race has started only ten thousand years back and it is still “work in progress”! Will the humans ever learn?The progress made by humans always has two sides. Initially, humans were struggling to create fire but now we have the problem of misuse or mishandling of fire! Courts were created with a view to be fair to all; now we see how these same courts are misused. Weapons were created for safety in wild wild jungles in olden days, then we have Hiroshima and Nagasaki!  

Friends and family are beautiful institutions that humans have created; let us try and maintain the harmony. Money after all comes and goes but the beautiful memories remain with us till we take our last breath! That is the biggest treasure that we can have! Choice is ours!  

Work Life Balance!

Enjoy Life with correct Work Life balance!

When I was in school, I used to come to Pune during holidays to my grandfather’s house. He had perfect Work-Life balance in those days. He retired before I was born. But from what I have heard, he used to go to office around 9 and be back home by 4.30. He was one of the luckier persons who had a steady job. When I started going to Pune, he had just started his retired life and would go to sleep by 7 in the evening and wake up at 4! Before going to sleep he used to listen to local news on radio, which would start at 7 pm. All others at home would have dinner by 8 pm and simply go to sleep by 8.30 pm. Cozy life, lovely life; there was nothing to do anyway. There was no TV, going for movies was rarity.  

This reminds me of Gulzarji’s lines 

अब दिन रातपे ही आके रुकता है 

मुझे याद है… 

पहले एक शाम भी हुआ करती थी 

Lifestyle has taken a tumble of 180 degrees since those days. Things have reached the other extreme, discussions have started on Work-life balance, which is a concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives. Why has this imbalance come in our life? Who is responsible? Do managements expect too much from employees? Is work being done with the help of less number of people? On home front, families have become nuclear, both husband and wife are working, and it has become a norm. There is less support system available from elderly. We have too many commitments on social front, too much time is “productively” spent on social media.    

Times have changed, work pressure on individuals has gone up. Pressure to perform is nothing new, it was always there and it will be always there. Why does the imbalance take place? It is simply because we have 24 hours in a day to do so many things. It is how productively we use that time which is important.  

First and foremost is the travel time. Home to workplace travel time is the most unproductive and tiring time. People these days travel anything between one to 2 ½ hours one way, to work. Traffic is going to become more complex and heavy, so there may not be respite from traffic. But yes, there is a solution. When people take up a new job in a different city, they rent a house as near to work place as possible. But in your own city you probably own a house or have been living in an area from childhood. So, you don’t want to change the house.  Solution, cut the emotion, be a little open minded about shifting to stay near the work place, be pragmatic. I was talking about this issue with my young friend Abhay.

Abhay rues that his generation has all the material stuff but no time to enjoy it. He said that if he moves to stay near his work place, he will save two hours every day! Multiply by 250 days. 500 hrs a year. It is as good as getting 50 days of additional leave to be with the family, maybe hit the gym, which today is not possible today. I told Abhay, after shifting near office, don’t spend additional two hours at office. Deepti wanted to take a new office. I suggested to her that it should not be more than 3 kms from her home, she had that option. Now her total travel time is 15 minutes. Hours gained, anxiety reduced? I don’t think you need any consultant to evaluate value addition done by making these changes. If you have financial need, rent out the “owned” flat. 

Now about the most unproductive thing! Social media. FB and WA are the biggest culprits causing the imbalance. Everybody wants to look at the cell phone at every opportunity available. Waiting for the red signal to turn green, open the device. You are doing serious work in office, you get a ding or a dong, ting or a tong! You stop the work to at least send a message, “I will come back to you”! Heavens are not going to fall if you don’t reply. Of course, friends may think that you have died since you did not respond in 30 seconds.  

Social Media has changed the society in such a way that there is fear in the minds of mafia that they may lose out to Social Media cartel. Take a back-seat Heroin’s, and ganjas of this world. You cannot compete with us! Smoking? What is that? I can have my new drug on my person all the time, police are not going to arrest me for that, parents are not bothered (they themselves are busy with addiction), lovers tiff no way. Why are you not talking to me? You don’t love me anymore. Did you see my new necklace? These words are passé! Both are busy looking at their own screens, looking into each other’s eyes? No way. Looking into his or her screen, yes of course. Did you see this video? Did you read this quote? Recently I saw photo of a group of friends, who met for chit chat! All were looking at their cell phone! Chatting? No way!  

To manage the Work Life balance, another thing we should analyze is how much time we are spending on social media. 2 hours, four hours? How many free hours do we have after deducting time for work, travel, sleep, and day to day chores? Do you want most of the waking time to be spent on social media? In fact, we are cutting into family time, sleeping time, causing sleep deprivation, or even  going out time. Your mind is never into what you are actually doing!  

Not in the distant past, a cranky child was given a pacifier in his mouth. Now the child is given a cell phone or a tablet to pacify the child. When the child crosses a certain age, the parents start cribbing, “Oh, my child cannot spend a single minute without cell phone”. I have seen mothers looking at WA while feeding a child, not breast feed but regular meal. A child needs a bit of attention and diversion. A song, or a story used to be the name of the game while feeding kids! When the mothers themselves indulge so much in WA/FB what do you expect the child to do?  

When we attempt something differently, it should start with you! Will you remain, away from social media for some time? Will you remain away from kitty parties? I am not saying that you shun these things. Anything in moderation is always good. A Mac Burger once in six months, a glass of wine, a cup of your favourite tea or coffee, for that matter any drink in moderation will always give you joy! Please think in a positive way! If we don’t use social media for some time, is it really going to affect your life?

Work pressures will be there, but can these be 24/7 and 365, no there are never such pressures. I have known of a person who went to US for work for a month, then 2 months and then continued his stay for three months. From there he was told to go to Germany for another three months. There were many problems at his home including illnesses; he should have told his boss that he will travel back after a quick visit back home, at least a couple of times. I don’t think his boss would have said no! But our friend just wanted to shun his home responsibilities. I am so busy syndrome!

Firstly, one has to decide if you really want work life balance! If you want it, there are always ways, you can find your own different methods too! Will will find a way! I forgot to tell you; I have promised Abhay that I will have a cup of tea with him one day, after his son has gone to school and before Abhay goes to office! Five minutes is all Abhay needs to go to office. The other day we went in the area where Deepti lives, we barged in to see her mother. Her mother called Deepti, she came home from office to have coffee with us. Utopia?  

                                                                                                                       

 

 

Ye Zindagi ke Mele!

Death of a Spouse is the toughest call in life. But overcoming it is doable.

This is an opening line of a song, from the movie Mela (1948). Mela means a Fair!

The meaning of the first couple of lines of the song is “This life is a Fair and there will be Fairs galore going on all the time! These Fairs will continue, alas, I will not be there!” The word “Fair” is the metaphor for “Life”!

This song represents the realities of life because life goes on and on! Our life is just a drop of water in the flowing river. At the end of our life, the water drop merges into river water and ends up as water. You folks must be wondering from my “All is Well” blog which I published yesterday, how come I have gone into reverse gear! I am not talking of sadness but realities of life. This is about one of most positive experience in my life!

This thought came in my mind when I attended a function for a book release. The book was written by my friend Vishwas’s wife Vineeta. The name of the book is “Grieving to Healing”. Vishwas died suddenly this year in January, and here is Vineeta publishing a book of poems she wrote while grieving. The courage shown by her is unbelievable and I am sure this book will guide many who have lost their spouses!

What is life? What would happen to this world if you and me never existed? What would this world be without a Gandhi or a Nehru? Where would this world be if there had been no Einstein or Picasso? World would have been the same if there had been no Lata Mangeshkar and Mohmad Rafi or a Tendulkar. Contribution of these eminent personalities is enormous. But had they not been born; our world would have been almost the same at it is today! Our individual contributions have no relevance, considering the life span of the earth. All of us are born and are assigned finite number of breathes. The beauty is we do not know that number. This lack of knowledge is what drives the world. Before the human being reaches the golden period of his life, after 60, fallibility as a concept is alien. In the golden period the thoughts come in mind about end of journey. If the end comes as a natural progression, after old age and illness, brief or long, humans accept the death philosophically. But when this happens suddenly, as if skidding on a speed breaker, the grieving is profound.

The book release, especially the thought behind it, is one of the important paths that Vineeta has shown us to move forward in life. People handle grief differently. Humans tend to think that sudden death occurs in someone else’s life and not their own life. Death of a spouse can happen in any home, like Cancer, Heart Attack, Fatal Accident also can happen to anybody. So why not plan for such possibility, the way people plan careers, and finances in life. Mind you, this is not going to be a golden wand solution, but planning will help one to handle the grief a little better.

What other ways come to mind? Create a small group of friends, who meet regularly. Do your exercise regularly and shun fast food!  But while doing this, be honest to yourself. A neighbour who died recently had a very different story. His son lives abroad and had come on a holiday. The neighbour had told his son that his BP/sugar values were regularly checked. His dad was going to Gym daily and met his friends post gym. As he died suddenly, the son kept on wondering why the death was sudden. He found, that testing was done regularly but values were wide outside the safe range. He did his Gym routine in a very relaxed manner, without sweating. He and his friends met after Gym for smoking and eating fast food. This was exactly opposite of what he should have been doing.

Trying to cultivate hobbies is a very important way of keeping yourself busy and interested in life. Planning, means one should start trying hobbies as early as possible and not after the event has occurred. Friends, history has shown that women handle the death of spouse much better than men. This could be because, day to day chores in the house like cooking, cleaning and tracking of groceries are ongoing and keeps women busy. Men also should try their hands at cooking and other daily chores; try helping your wife in the kitchen! Don’t start with something very fancy but start with something which you normally eat. Both men and women should start some activity which ensures that there is something to look forward to the next day or week. Do not plan your things around your children and their families. Sometimes we tend to forget that they have also grown and have their own life, worries and anxieties. Support them, help them. Be their lighthouse but don’t make them your lighthouse!  And do not expect the children to look after you! Anxieties increase when expectations are not met.  

If you are a people’s person, life can be much easier. After the death of your spouse, your most reliable partner is gone. Being people’s person will help you handle this change in a better way. Don’t go into shell. Start going to market for your daily chores. Initially you may find it tough. But over a period, things ease out. Start going on holidays, to movies. Do things that you normally do.

Friends, passing of a spouse is the thing that will hit you the hardest. It is the most difficult event to handle. But it is doable. Try to start doing things, that your spouse would have expected you to do! As the saying goes, your spouse will be  watching you from up there, till you take that final journey to rejoin!