Too Busy to Enjoy!


A friend shared her experience, which made me think. They lived in Worli, Mumbai on the 19th floor bang opposite their windows was the Arabian sea. A couple of her friends had come to stay with them for a few days. Just before leaving for the train station, the guest said, “Oh! There is the sea out there. You have a nice view.” For the duration of their stay, they never observed the sea. Come on; you cannot miss the sea. The guests lived in a city which was far away from the sea.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is the idiom that comes to mind. In dictionaries, the usage of the word beauty is explained as

  • the qualities in a person or thing that as whole give pleasure to the senses
  • the beauty of the landscape along the coast was enough to take your breath away

Some enjoy the beauty in the smallest things, and others miss the ocean in front of the eyes. Why is that so? It could be that some of us are too engrossed in trying to find out the next meal! It could be that some of us are too busy arranging the meal for the seventh generation, down the lane- engrossed in making money! Some of us need to have alcoholic support to enjoy tête-à-tête with a friend. For a person like me, meeting a friend gives me a high! But experiencing something beautiful comes naturally. The most beautiful thing is the smile of a child who starts recognising its mother. Nothing can beat the innocent smile. Would there be people in this world who do not enjoy this smile? Yes, there would be! What are such people made up of is difficult to judge! My favourite Q! Is it in their DNA? Are they born with this defect? If that is so, then they are most unfortunate.


We see many people with lines on their forehead! Their brows are always indicating that they have to carry the load of the universe. People forget that they can do serious work, meaningful work, but for that, they need not take themselves seriously. You may be discussing the theory of nuclear energy or talking about military strategy, but during lunch or tea break, you can always share a joke or two. You might see some birds in the vicinity; and you may get a lovely drizzle, enjoy it.

There is a story that shows the thinking of people. We had a family friend living close by, in Pune. He was a nice person, but he had a different way of thinking. In Pune, we generally have beautiful temperate weather. For a week in monsoon, a couple of weeks in summer weather is not comfortable. Whenever I spoke to him, I would ask him how he was. Depending on the time of the year, he would reply, “Oh, it is so hot!” “Oh, it is so Cold!” “Oh, there is so much rain!” Surprisingly, these statements were made about Pune weather.

I will share with you a few things I have enjoyed in life. In our younger days, we always had a cat at home. One of them was smart. She had a few deliveries in our home. The cats change places where they keep the babies, till the kittens start moving on their own. The smarty would shift only one of the babies, and she expected us to move the other babies. We thought that we were smarter than her and shifted the kittens to a new place; it was a pre-emptive move on our part. Smarty did not like this. She moved one of the kittens to the first place and followed us in the house. We were wondering why she was following us. Then we saw what she had done. Then we moved all remaining kittens to the first place. She stopped following us and went to sleep with the kittens. It was a sight to see the cat teaching her kittens to catch small mice in our garden.

You do not need to go to Tajmahal, Niagara Falls or St Moritz to enjoy the beauty. These are of course beautiful, but in smaller things also you can enjoy. You must enjoy the paintings of Picasso, Rembrandt and Hussain but do not forget that HE is the most celebrated painter on the earth, he offers art show every day if you have an eye for it. It is free. We enjoy that show from our balcony every day! Who can paint better than HIM?

Now there is a trend to take holidays, and we travel with tour organisers. They spin you around for seven to thirteen days. When we take this option, we try to see that the coordinators do not have a hectic schedule. Also, we check in advance that they allow us to spend a day or two on our own. We want to enjoy at our pace, at the same time we want to soak into the beauty in our way.

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In St Moritz, Switzerland, they had suggested that we go and enjoy the beauty of four peaks in a day which included Matterhorn. We did only two. We spent a lot of time at Matterhorn. We believe in soaking into the beauty at our pace!

We have a home where we lived for about seven years. It is a row house. There we have a garden, and there was greenery. We used to have an adda of friends quite regularly, having tea-coffee and Gappa. We had garden chairs and a table under the shade of trees. When the chairs were full, there was a platform to sit on. I remember sessions after sessions of Gappa even in monsoon during a drizzle. It is the atmosphere, it is the ambience, and it is most important how you want to seek the beauty with which you are surrounded. In Madikeri resort jungle, I would enjoy early morning tweets by birds. I was hoping to find in vain the sequence in which different birds tweet- I never succeeded. I thought that they chirped at random- it only showed that my knowledge of the subject was poor!

Our life is full of ups and downs but we need to handle it in such a way that we find good stuff from what is around you. Do not shut eyes when at home; to enjoy the beauty of the world we do not necessarily have to travel. When you can find good things from the world around you, you improve your life’s balance sheet by making entries to the credit side!

 

And the winner is!

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People excel in many fields. Some excel over a long time. In recognition of their work, organisations declare prizes or medals. Great! We are always happy when others appreciate us. It could be for our looks or success in an examination. It may be for achievement in art, science or sports! The recognition helps us achieve more, to better ourselves.

Parents encourage their progeny when they are growing up. It is a joyful day in any household when a child puts independent steps without any support. The same is true when the same child cycles on its own. The child is further elated when it rides, shouting, “Ma, no hands!” It has bettered itself.

But there seem to be some organisations and people who make this simple process, complex and controversial. Recently a photographer from India, living in Kashmir, was awarded the Booker Prize. The prize seems to be awarded to Indians to create controversy. Another such person to get the Booker Prize was Arundhati Roy, first Indian to get it. In the first case, the person is not controversial,  nor is the photograph. It is the citation that created the controversy. After Pakistan, so-called, globalised the Kashmir issue, there have been attempts by some people and organisations to keep the issue burning, all the time. Instead of bypassing the regional controversy, they mention words like Indian Occupied Kashmir in the citation. But this is a non-Indian organisation, but there are Indian politicians from a national party who toe the line and blow their trumpet. They could have easily avoided this by congratulating the person for excellent photography and making a statement against the organisation for stoking regional controversies.

But no, they don’t do it. These people practically endorse it. The photograph mentioned above is excellent, but Roy’s book, The God of Small Things, was beyond the understanding of most ordinary people. I bought the book and tried to read it at different times, but to no avail. I have discussed with many friends, and they also had the same opinion. It appears that the persons of her ilk seem to get a license to rubbish the Indian state at all levels, every time. These people will say terrorism is terrible, after 26/11, but will try to link it to the persecution of the people post-partition. She tied 26/11 to Kashmir issue and kept on justifying. When they are asked for a solution, they will say it is for the government to find it; she is only going to criticise. It could be a Narmada dam project or Naxalite issue. She will always be on the side of the sufferers. There is no question that the rehabilitation of displaced people must be done. The reasons behind Naxalite issues are justified, but the means adopted by Naxalites can never be justified.

When the US attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, using force against terrorism was not the solution as per the lady. Probably there should have been a face to face meeting in Davos or St Moritz in some convention centre with the terrorists to resolve issues. When Naxalites have a problem, they attack and kill about a hundred policemen, using landmines. But when the government forces counter-attack, it cannot be justified. There are many such “liberals” who get the Prizes, but they are not staunch enough in their stand against India.

Then there are other organisations which are equally controversial but fortunately not so harmful; sometimes I feel that they are funny! Such organisations have become an industry formed because of the film industry, the world over. It could be Hollywood, Bollywood and film festivals. Films have a place in the modern world. The heroes and heroines become heartthrobs, and people follow every action by them outside the movies too. Hundreds of people wait outside their homes on their birthdays.

Surprisingly, we Indians have not overcome the awe we feel about anything foreign. India produces the maximum number of films in a year. We have our yearly ceremonies like Filmfare awards. In the US, it is Academy awards. The award ceremonies have become a business, and many organisations sponsor these ceremonies. There are popular categories and critics categories. In all these years, Critics and Popular awards have never been given to the same movies. Why is that so? It only indicates that the popular demand is quite different than those liked by critics. Last year there has been a big controversy that the winner of majority awards was favoured, slyly, over other good films.

Anyway, in any area where ranking is done, controversies are bound to be there. But these have reached a stage where a better actor like Amir Khan has stopped taking part in these ceremonies. The surprising aspect is that now he is not selected for these awards. He could be given awards in absentia. But that is not done.

Indians in general and Bollywood gang are enamoured by Hollywood. We get excited when someone from India gets an Academy award. Another thing observed is that Indian movies which show about India’s poverty are preferred movies for International awards. One should be happy and excited if the person receives a prize. It is the recognition of their work. It is a recognition of the work in a movie. But over some time, it is seen that people get a lifetime achievement award. The criteria it seems is to be alive on that day. Some of the persons who have received this award were never famous for their acting skills or versatility.

Then there are national awards given by a government body. In this category too, popular and critic views are in a total mismatch. I will not call these awards processes sham, but these indicate the realities of life. Sometimes favouritism takes place, but it is not the norm.

 

Now the last and the most exciting part of the filmy drama. There is something called Red-carpet walk. When the actors come to these ceremonies, they are decked for the show. They spend a vast amount of money on dresses. For the female actors at Academy awards or Cannes festival, the norm is to show off the biological assets. There is a competition going on to expose more and more. The gossip magazines and photographers are waiting for a moment which is famously called dress malfunction. In the dress malfunction, sometimes a breast pops out for a split second. Sometimes the innerwear of these ladies makes a fleeting display. Oh! Come on! Who is bothered? If you say this, then you are from a minority group! These photos are industry by themselves. If a videographer can catch this on a video, he has made it!

To me, the controversies in giving prizes, that create an issue about the sovereignty of a country, are a problem. If citizens of that nation are not bothered about these controversies, then there is more problem. But the dress malfunction is probably sometimes done on purpose! Your take, please!

I am okay with controversies because people have a different opinion. But when large nations like India have to suffer, I can not appreciate it.

Live debt-free life! 

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Here is a disclaimer! I am not an expert in the financial field, and I don’t have detailed knowledge of finances, especially the finance requirements of businesses. But then why am I writing this blog? There is another side of assets and liabilities in our life. You may be in business, serving somewhere or you are a student or a housewife. I am talking of time available to us. Every person has twenty-four hours available daily. I have heard some executives and young mothers say, “If I had forty-eight hours with me!” Every persons’ time balance increases by 24 hours at the stroke of midnight, not a second less not a second more. In the money world, when we start using credit cards indiscriminately or buy those yachts and buy chalets in St Moritz, your credit lines are going to be stretched. These then break at some time as it happened to a Mallya or a Neerav Modi.

Friends organise your time finances, or you may end bankrupt before you come to know. Every task on your to-do list, unread email, meeting request, project update, and goal requires time to complete. You wake up and realise before you think of this list, you know that you don’t have time to make this list! The actions and choices you make during the day have a compounding effect on your time. But you don’t have to go into “Time Debt”, you only need to tweak the way you do things, you plan your things. Even before you realise, you will have “Time Assets” with you.

If you are in “Time Debt”, you are not alone in this world. The whole world appears to be in this debt. There are reasons like wrong planning, procrastination, can’t say NO. We forget that you owe it to you and your family first. I am not saying that you come to the office late every day because you have home stuff to be completed. Plan and execute the home stuff the way you do things at the office. You are falling short of time at home because you take that extra half an hour wink, every day. You need to take that wink because you sleep late at night. You sleep late at night because you were making that presentation late in the night. You know what I mean. It is a vicious circle. Unless you plan these things both at home and work, you will never become debt-free.

A considerable number of people work late in the office or keep on working after coming home. Now I am sure you have understood what I mean. When you use a credit card, you are committing your future income to the credit card company. If you use the credit card as a convenience, then it is a different issue. If not, then you are in big trouble. You suddenly realise that after the credit card money is paid, you are not left with much cash and zero savings for the future.

How does time-debt start working in real life? You are working on a software project. Due to customer pressure or boss’s stares, you resolve the customer complaint, temporarily. By the time customer is back unhappily, you are handling another issue. So, you make another quick-fix patch. Within a short period, you know that you have supplied to the customer a quilt made up of different patches. What happens to your other projects? You have used your credit card here rather than using your debit card. Slowly you start realising that debt in any form is easy to take but hard to pay and you pay back much more. If the software company where you are working works this way, at some stage it will collapse.

The problems start when you don’t prioritise your work. Start saying No instead of Yes! You overcommit yourself and work longer hours to achieve it. We don’t realise the effects of time debt until it’s too late.

Time debt charges its interest, in the form of deficit in focus and attention. The more time you’ve loaned out to other tasks, the more those tasks weigh on your mind and steal your attention. For example, it’s much harder to focus on an upcoming deadline when you have tons of overdue tasks hanging over you.

Social media has become a significant reason for distraction. I am sure that during office hours, people must be getting distracted at least 50% of the times due to social media. The lack of focus is the debt, and with debt comes the interest payment. Delaying decisions is also a way of losing focus. Such delays by decision making people can cost monetarily as well as reputation-wise.

I will share a story which will show how delays can cost! A medium-sized vendor was supplying a component, an assembly, to a large vehicle manufacturer; the Vehicle Manufacturer (VM) owned the design for the component. There was a premature failure of the component in the field, in large numbers. The vendor did a lot of research and suggested some changes. For three years vendors suggestions were ignored. When the vendor took a stand, that he will stop production, everybody woke up. During these three years, the vendor and the vehicle manufacturer shared the warranty cost; but both lost their reputation in the field. The cost of loss of reputation could not be calculated. Add to this, various meetings, phone calls, travel in the market, which created stress between the two partners. The three-year delay caused and enormous hardships to all!

The classic case of debt taken without understanding the cost is seen in the example discussed above. I am sure the total cost to VM incurred due to the loss of goodwill must have been much more than the actual warranty costs.

In the same way, we should keep track of where we are “wasting” time daily. Wastage will include distraction, time lost for something unbudgeted because you could not say no! You have first rights on your time. So, when you need to withdraw additional time from your bank, do it for your work and not someone else’s job. Your “job” could include your rest too! Handle the item which leaks your energy, first. These are “must” items; so, unless these are completed, you don’t feel comfortable resting or even sleeping.

Importance of saying no is explained in the story I want to tell you. Years back, I used to go to the office on a bike. I would leave home, keeping sufficient time as a buffer for some unexpected problems. A friend used to go to his office in their office bus, but he would habitually miss the bus. Once he missed his bus and requested me for a lift. As we were about ten minutes from my office, he said, “Could you drop me to my office first?” His office was in another direction. I would have got late for my office. I told him, “Mate, I leave home at a particular time so that I can reach my office on time. Sorry!” I had learnt to say NO at a very early age! 🙂🙂

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Even Better India!

My previous blog was Better India! The blog got responses from people, and the subject has touched many hearts! My friend Ajit was very vocal and made strong pointsThese many comments induced me to write this blog, Even better India! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/11/18/better-india/ 

Most have agreed about self-discipline, and road discipline and rule-breaking by ordinary people. But the comments also suggested that if specific actions are taken against a group of people, we can have “Even Better India”! Who are these people? Which is this group of people who need to be controlled? Politicians, Bankers, Rogue business persons? Or all these can be defined under one group, Goondas? Maybe this is too strong a word! People working in government have great opportunities to take bribes, but let me assure you it happens in the private sector too! Let me tell you that taking bribes has been happening even in my parent’s generation! I know it because my father was a police officer and retired as a DCP! Since he was an honest officer, after retirement, he did not have enough money to buy his own home too! Our family found a different solution for them. While I was in school, at some family friend’s house, I had accidentally seen a few bundles of hundred-rupee notes! He was a government official. So how do we start to make even a better India?  

Independent India started with people who had their needs barely covered, but there was only small higher middle class and wealthy class. Our country was in a euphoric mood, and the income tax slab at the top end was 97 %! We were in a socialist mood. There was general hate about wealthy people as if they were some aliens. Wealthy Kings and Royalty were expected, but there was dislike about rich people. At 97 % income tax rate tendency to hide profits and not showing correct income started becoming a norm. My personal view is that I would have also done the same thing had I been a taxpayer in those days. Over a period, the government understood the folly of such high taxation plus need to get linked with the global systemTax % over a period became more realistic and with global links business activity in India started increasing. IT industry suddenly put many Indians in the worldwide workforce. The number of people in the middle class and higher middle class started growing.  

Now we have millionaires and billionaires in the working class. Along with this change, businesspeople started becoming superrich. Income tax compliance increased, but people still started hiding their income, the most standard method was to create a group of shell companies, thanks to the creativity of chartered accountantsSome well-known global accounting firms also started helping businesspersons by suggesting the Swiss Banks and Cayman island routes. Some super-rich became roving Casanovas and had lifestyle which created many Nonperforming assets. Homes in London, Villas in Cannes, spending summer months in St Moritz became the lifestyle of these people.  

When there were so many super-rich people, politicians could not be far behind. The nexus became stronger. The lawmakers tweaked the laws for their friends, and the quid pro quo was not far awayWhen money levels reached thousands of crores, the need for bank loans increased, with this cheating the banks also increased. Over some time, friendly managers, general managers and directors of the banks started the quid pro quo acts with the rich! You help me; I will “help” you!  

Some of the super-rich entered the political arena, along with these people some harmful elements from the society also joined the bandwagon, including those with murder charges, started becoming netas and getting elected in Vidhan sabha and Lok SabhaWe all forget that theoretically, India is a great democracy with significant rules and laws to keep check on malpractices! The income tax departments, enforcement directorates, and other authorities were around but were kept dormant under pressure by politicians. These group of officials were “told” to ignore malpractices done by certain groups of businesses. Politicians thought that they were immune to such actions.  

But in recent years, the government is trying to ensure that the vigilance departments would start doing the job actively, without any influence from interested” people. The action created Mallyas, Modis and Kotharis. People who thought that they could never be caught have become official fugitives. Government has started action against shell companies, and three lac shell companies were forced to closeThe act of closing shell companies automatically brought out the trail of black money. Government has started acting against chartered accounting firms who were “guiding” people to hide the black money trail. A chartered accounting firm in Bangalore was guiding thousands of employees to “steal” money from Income Tax. All these people were made to pay correct tax, and it was easy for the department to locate who was guiding them. The authorities acted against this particular company too! 

The nexus between all these groups is so deep in the system that it is going to take time to bring them to books. Some political families, who were middle class twenty years back now have thousands of crores with them, without any specific known source of income. How is this happening? Will the government have the guts to act against such families? I think the government has shown courage already by taking action against individuals and families 

Supreme Court is also quite proactiveThey are actively pursuing cases like Sahara, DSK, Unitech, Amrapali and many others. The court has put many big shots in jail. They have been told, arrange to return people’s money if they wanted to come out of jail. Mallya, Modi, Kothari have been shamed as they are declared fugitives! They are living the life of fugitives in other countries. The courts, even in the UK, are making it very difficult for them to get bail. These folks ran away from India before they were declared offenders, so their exit from India and entry into the UK has been legal, so extradition has become a tough and longdrawn process.  Banks have also started correcting their errors. The NPA money to the tune of four lac crores has been recovered from defaulters 

One thing is sure that the system does not like non-corrupt officials and politicians. But some non-corrupt people have shown that one can work in the present corrupt environment. When the government started giving various subsidies based on Aadhar card links, many groups and individuals were upset. Some state governments are already acting on corrupt officials, but there is a long way to go!  

Making changes is not as easy as it looks, but again it is about the culture. The world over there is significant corruption in large business deals. But usually, it does not happen on day-to-day be basis like our policemen, anti-encroachment team taking hafta (speed money)! So, it comes back to the same issues what I wrote in the blog “Better India”! If the policeman on roads, clerks in the offices, peons sitting outside the boss’s cabin stop taking haftas, things will change.  

Government action on business people, politicians, and goondas is going to help create “Even better India”! But as Ajit had also mentioned in his comments that the general public is good; no, I don’t agree! All the big guns or goons whatever you want to call them, are being chased and are being taken to task; the same non-hafta culture and culture of self-discipline must filter down to the lowest common denominator!  

Actions need to be taken right across the board and not against only some groups! Combination of these two actions is going to make “Even Better India”!

 

Evolution of Human Social Life!

We always talk of scientific evolution, industrial revolutions and progress of sciences. Evolution of human thinking about life and the way it is lived, is probably equally or more important. My thinking is based on practices followed in Hinduism. During initial thinking, a couple of thousand years back, life was divided in three parts; Obligation, Success, Pleasure. I am not talking of Ashramas as discussed in Hinduism. Later, freedom was added to the thinking. In Sanskrit, these are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. I feel that addition of freedom, was necessitated due to social changes, in parallel with changes in science and technology.   

I am trying to understand life style evolutions, going hand in hand, with scientific evolutions. I was wondering why the Moksha was not included initially as a part of human life. I think, that not many people really reached the age of freedom or Moksha.  

Dharma or Obligation was about doing the right things. This involved creating the right thinking in human mind; don’t become selfish, think about others. When we live in a society, the societal norms and etiquettes need to be followed. These have evolved over a period of time. In this phase of life, it is our duty is to learn societal norms. During this phase, humans also get married. Marriage is not only coming together of two people but it is about coming together of two families. This involves readjustment in your lives. This phase has undergone a major change. In olden days, marriages took place between bride and groom, who lived in the same vicinity and whose families were known to each other. The marriages took place at an early age. From time immemorial, there have been hierarchies in our society based on caste, creed and many other parameters. Ones station in life was decided by these parameters. Marriages also took place initially, dictated by hierarchy. King’s family did not marry a commoner. Have these things changed today? It is both yes and no! 

There is a typical Hindi word बिरादरी, which means fraternity. Marriages still take place within fraternity, caste and so on. But there is a big change; people now do marry outside fraternity, different castes, different religions, they can be from far off places, or from different countries. With more education, people tend to get married late. Our thinking is slowly adapting to these changes. This is major social evolution or even an upheaval.  

In adulthood, one gets established in life, simultaneously while establishing in a job or business, but both are equally important. This is the success phase. Over a period, in this phase, now there is a big change. As late as 50 to 70 years back, one finished education, got a job, got married, procreated and retired from the same job. A few years after retirement many simply died! Now post education, someone may start a business right away. On the other side it is no more surprising when people continue with their education till early 30’s. By the age of 30, I had a six-year-old son and had a work experience of 6 to 7 years. This changing trend has its own pluses and minuses. But system does evolve itself.  

Trends in the stable phase of human life are also changing. This is now a phase where people procreate, work, travel and have fun. This goes hand in hand with their professional work. Now we see many cases where both husband and wife work. People tend to be busy 24/7, 365 days doing various things in life. The trend of buying homes and big cars, as soon as possible, is also coming in vogue. Adding to these changes, another important aspect that has changed is, from joint family structure, we are switching over to nuclear family. Money in plenty is available but home support is diminishing. Our society is adjusting to these changes too! Crèches, home staff, drivers become your “family” for support. When people live in foreign countries, their parents go and live for months together for support; but in the end parents do come back home. Nuclear family of old parents is also becoming a norm. This recent trend is mainly because of globalization and IT industry proliferation. 

I feel that pleasure and freedom phases have merged and these phases start a little late in life because the medical revolution has increased longevity. People live much longer than before; life expectancy was 31 in 1947 in India now it is 66. This indicates that larger proportion lives much longer after retirement. By the time of retirement, major family responsibilities are over. Financial commitments are lesser and finance availability is much better. This is the time when pleasure phase is in top gear plus freedom to do things, that were not possible during busy phase. I have an argument which may be, a bit controversial. In olden days, after the productive phase, Moksha or merging of soul with cosmic soul was thought to be final phase in life. During those days, there was hardly anything else to do than to follow the path of Moksha and try to achieve nirvana. Hence the term merging of soul with cosmic soul was used. I have nothing against trying to give up so called pleasures in lieu of bhakti or following the religious practices to achieve moksha. But now moksha is an option, not like olden days when it was the only option.  

Large number people travel, follow their dreams, maybe start a new venture in this phase! This social change is happening rapidly due to advent social evolution in tandem with ease of travel, ease of knowing about far off places. There are online courses available for photography, learning new languages, gardening. There are facilities to learn details about Bhagwad Geeta and there are special religious tours arranged for senior citizens. This reminds me of a joke. A guy tells his friend that he was about to book a religious holiday package for his family with parents. When he went to ask his parents, the father said, ” Sorry son can’t make it! We have booked a holiday for Bangkok and Pattaya!” Social change, anybody?  

Moksha is liberation from cycle of birth & death. This is taught by our religions but religious thinking which is part of social fabric also undergoes changes, along with technological changes! When no other option is available we adopt to existing conditions. But current social changes in pleasure and freedom in life can be considered like migration of young people looking for better options! So, Moksha or evolution, what is your take? I will prefer Moksha in St Moritz or Gangtok anytime! Come join the new Moksha brigade!  

 

Serendipity!

The word Serendipity means the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Some of my friends are always saying that I am infected by “Tharoorism”. Honestly, I am not, and Serendipity is a word that was first used in 1754. It is said to be one the hardest words to translate. Notion of Serendipity is common in science domain as some important discoveries in science are due to chance e.g. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin, discovery of microwave oven, “Post-It” note.

Don’t worry, I am not going into discovery mode, but I get a feeling that in today’s world of rush, rush and rush we don’t leave time for Serendipity, we don’t leave time for anything! I am not talking of the time when we are working. But besides work we do so many things in life but we seem to continue to rush through things. We take holidays, we go for brunch, we go for shopping, we just chat, we go for a stroll, we read, we play, we paint; but we have gone into a habit of rushing through everything.

We had recently gone on a holiday in Europe; with age and language issue we thought that it may be a good idea to take a conducted tour. We had two-day stay in St. Moritz in Switzerland. The tour director had offered to take our group to various peaks and the lake, but the program was quite cramped. We told her that we will go at our own leisurely pace and maybe see a few things less!

First, we took the bus and took a tour of the town at our own pace getting down where ever we wanted. We went to the famous lake and spent a couple of hours there and really had a great time. We saw many small things which were not mentioned in any of the brochures. A very tall escalator to come up to the road level from the lake, was a pleasant surprise as we never got the judgement of depth of the lake from the main road! We were looking for nature’s beauty, but this man-made structure was also a surprise to us. We took some photos and videos but most of the time just enjoyed  the beauty of the nature through our own eyes and not through the lenses. The colour changes of the mountains and lake water, due to cloud movement were simply superb.

Later, we went to a couple of peaks at the height of 3800 meters, plus. What we did there was to absorb the atmosphere, look at the beauty of snow and sunshine, drink the pure weather! We were hungry, but they did not offer food which suited our diet. The chef there said if we had some time with us, he could cook something to suit us. That was the best sandwich we had on the entire tour, Serendipity?

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We felt like sitting and watching this lake as long as possible, it was so beautiful!

We were in Innsbruck, Austria. The traditional dance show was the optional part of the tour. It was called Tyrolean Evening. We were informed that no photography was allowed during the show. It turned out to be an absolute boon as we could enjoy the show thoroughly, we could see and feel the energy, we could see the superb coordination of the group and we could also enjoy our wine! The way dancers energetically tapped their thighs in coordination, was simply awesome. The show was the highlight of the tour! It was a late show, we were tired but were never rushed. It was the Serendipity moment. Here is the link for the show.

https://www.tiroler-abend.com/en/tyrolean-evenings/tyrolean-evening.html

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Social media has added to our rush/rush mentality. Everybody wants to share what they are doing and seeing, on the social media. It may be Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and what have you. We have made it a rule to share such things only with close family that maybe at the end of the day! Sharing photos and videos from the locations is an absolute no no! The rush for sharing things on the media, puts your mind away from what you are doing, you feel that you are enjoying it by sharing it! But if you think seriously, except close family and friends, all others are not so keen to know what you are doing at every moment. This excited behavior has led to accidents as people have fallen from mountains, fallen from ships, fallen from trains in their attempt to “share” instantly. I had written in my blog “Touch the whale”; people go on whale sighting trips but are behind the lenses all the time instead of touching the whale which has come at a touchable distance.

When you go for shopping, occasionally you end up getting a deal which you will never get if you rush through. During brunch, keep extra time, linger on a bit, try new things, you may discover some new food stuff that you had never tried out before; if you don’t rush you may meet a long-lost friend. But rushing habit is not good for anyone as it creates stress and can affect your health.

Sorry! I must rush and take my evening sunset photographs! I don’t get enough time to write my blogs because I must rush and meet friends, just before I rush for evening bridge rubbers. Then of course there is a late evening dinner with family before going for that recently released, late night movie! I just don’t get time for anything, but I enjoy rushing everywhere! I really enjoy ! Do I?

Strange are the ways!

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 Pramod somehow managed to make Internet Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Pramod today I am going to share some incidents and I want you honest answer, Ok?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to what Genie asked.

As usual Genie kept on talking. Pramod, when you were in school, there used to be a  Cricket commentator called Vizy, Maharaj kumar of Vijaya Nagaram. If there were an award for most boring commentator, he would have won it hands down. You were listening to the commentary and Vizy was telling some boring story on the lines of, “In 1936, when I was in England…” he kept on talking and talking. In between 2/3 times you heard sudden crowd noise in the background. Vizy kept on talking, then his co commentator suggested, “Vizy should we update our listeners about today’s match?” He said, “Ok, I will update.” He coolly said, “In the meanwhile India has lost three wickets!” Pramod, was it not a strange way to handle the situation? Did Vizy forget that he was there to explain the match to listeners and not talk only about his nostalgia?

Pramod, this incident is a bit serious! You were chatting to a friend who had gone on a holiday to Europe, along with a group of friends! When you asked how the tour was? He said, “Fantastico!” Obviously, they had visited Italy too! Then he told you about St Moritz, Lucerne and many such lovely places. All in all, they were extremely happy with the experience! You had heard that there was a mishap on the tour. So, you asked about it. He said, “Oh! So and so died as he had a stroke and hemorrhage on the bus while we were in the middle of nowhere!”  My worry is about “Fantastico”. How can one say that tour was Fantastico when someone from the group died! Pramod, was it not a strange way to react to a sad event?

Pramod, this is even stranger issue as it was the way things were handled by a group of Professionals. A friend of yours had a massive heart attack; next day doctors declared that patient’s heart was working at 18/20%. Doctors said that even if he survived, he would be left completely bed ridden. Next strange action was that he was put on a ventilator for 3 weeks. Obviously nothing was improving. Then they took a decision to perform the bye pass surgery and convinced the family how it is essential! Next day the surgery was performed. Result. Doctors came out and said, “ Surgery is successful!” After four hours they declared, “The patient died; his body could not handle the surgery!” Pramod, is this not a very strange way of handling the situation? That too by professionals. They performed the bye pass surgery only from commercial angle!

Pramod, last one is even stranger. A person died and he was a non believer. Cremation was done without any religious stuff. Then you were told that there  will be pooja on 13th day. This was a surprise to you. When you went for pooja, you found that there was a big religious stuff planned. Thoughts about the person who died and his immediate family be damned! The reason, there was a marriage in the extended family in a couple of months. The dark shadows formed because of death were to be thwarted. Who cares about the thought process of the person who died? Pramod, can anything be stranger than this? Tell me why people behave in such a strange way?

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie, you have told me so many incidents, I have to give you an explanation, incident wise.  Ok, Vizy was an old guy and in his own world. That a few wickets fell in between did not really matter. But in the case of European tour, how can the response be Fantastico?  Tour must have been terrible, post the death of a person from the group! The response should have been “Europe was good, but we had a very sad experience due the death of a friend on the tour”! In the case of the heart patient, the doctors should have advised the family that nothing more could be done. They should have allowed the patient to die peacefully! In the last incident, if people cannot honour the wishes of the dead then I don’t know what type of family are they?”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp. Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and the system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “Pramod I agree with you, but what has world come to! Is there no humanity left?”