You don’t owe anybody anything!  

There is a lovely song in the Hindi film Amar Prem. Kishore Kumar has sung it. The enchanting music is by R D Burman, and some of its lyrics are below.

“Kuchh to log kahenge logon ka kaam hai kehnaa
Chhodo bekaar ki baaton mein kaheen beet na jaaye rainaa.”

People will say something or the other; it’s their business to talk, 
Ignore it, lest the night should pass in these useless things. 

“Hum ko jo taane dete hain, ham khoye hain in rang-raliyon mein
Hum ne un ko bhi chhup chhup ke aate dekhaa in galiyon mein
Ye sach hai jhoothi baat nahi tum bolo ye sach hai na”

Those who taunt us, saying we’re lost in debauchery. I’ve seen even them come in these lanes in hiding. It is the truth, not a false rumour you say, isn’t it true? 

Listen to the beautiful song.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=kuch+to+log+kahenge+video&view=detail&mid=384A5D1D6A7EA0934CE6384A5D1D6A7EA0934CE6&FORM=VIRE&cc=IN&setlang=en-US&cvid=c2f0a9c836654fc0b7951ddc090ba44c&qs=AS&nclid=78F22CE3E9B7CDC16C03D00A6AD00918&ts=1578145418657

I have taken only a few lines from the song. Life is full of people with hypocrisy. Whatever you do or say, some will say bad things about you; they will blame you come what may! Then why bother about such people. That is why the title “You don’t owe anybody anything!” They want to say something against you, they will say it anyway.

I will make only one exception of owing. You owe something to your children, but lest you get me wrong, they don’t owe you anything. You have brought your children into this world, so it is your responsibility to help them learn things until they become independent.

What is the purpose of our life? What do we expect from it? You may want to achieve things, or you may want to take it easy in life. But I am sure that all of us are aiming towards a happy life. My friend Vijay sent me a video yesterday about happiness. The video made me think. The person in the video mentioned that we should strive to be happy, we should work hard and love our work. Satisfaction in the work will not make you happy. We should be in touch with our family and friends regularly, even if others are busy. People think that they are busy and don’t have time to be in touch with others. But it is not so. You should take out time to keep in touch. The third thing is that you should take holidays every year — a couple of longish holidays, or at least a few small ones. These three things are independent of each other. As a surgeon, you maybe passionate about your work. As a scientist, you may get engrossed in your work. But that completes only one part of your life. If you don’t do the other things, at some stage, you will feel empty.

There is one more rider! You owe it to your spouse. You have taken an oath “Till death.” So, spouses owe it to each other. Over a period, spouses are expected to become close friends. I need not explain more. Other than this, you don’t owe it to anyone, and nobody owes you anything.

Our main aim should always be to become a good person, a happy person. Others may like you because you are a good person, but don’t forget that they don’t owe it to you. Don’t feel bad that someone does not behave well with you, and she does not keep in touch with you. That does not mean that you are not a good person. Her thinking may be different from yours. Once you understand this concept, you will be much better off in life. You will have fewer issues with life!

I was coming back from school. My friend Pradeep was not on the bus that day. There was another child, whom I knew, was eating chocolate. Though I knew her, she did not offer me chocolate. After I reached home, I told the episode to my mother. She said to me at that time, “Pramod you are a good child. But that does not mean that your friend had to give a part of that chocolate. She might have been hungry. There could be many reasons. That she did not share chocolate with you does not make you  a bad person.” It is one lesson I learnt in my childhood that is helping me a lot!

You meet and become close to many people in your life’s journey. They may be colleagues, or they may be your neighbours. But we sometimes forget that we may not be able to keep in touch with all of them throughout our life! It has nothing do you with how that person is! Only with very few people, you will continue to have a life long relationship. That is how life’s journey is. You can compare the journey with ever-flowing water of a river. We like the river, and we love it’s flowing water! But does the river like you? You will say that the river is not a person, and it has no feelings. That is my point. The persons may have emotions, but that does not mean that the same will be reciprocated with you. If they like you, they love you, then it is good. But don’t forget that they don’t owe you.

 Love and respect are two things that you must earn! You can’t go inside the minds of the people and force them to love or respect you. Years back, I had just started my business. I went to see the purchase manager of one organisation. He was a dear friend.

He called his assistant. My friend told him, “This is my friend Pramod. Please see if we can buy some items from his company. Do not come to me for anything. The deal should be beneficial to our company, and our buying should be as per our company’s policies.” I got the orders. I supplied my products to this company for 2/3 years. But after that, their company policies changed, and my company did not fit into the scheme of things. Purchase Manager was my neighbour. We met often. But the subject of business never came into discussion, ever. Both of us knew why my dealings had stopped with them. I knew that he did not owe it to me!

In Bhutan, they worry more about Gross happiness Index rather than worrying about GDP, Gross Domestic Product. I think Bhutan’s priorities are correct. Better GDP or more money help you to be a little happier. But if people are already happy, lesser GDP does not make people unhappy!

Friends, this is an essential subject and should be introduced to children while they are young. At the same time elders also can think about what I have written and should try to become happier. You owe it yourself to remain happy!

A stitch in time!

A stitch in time saves nine! The wellknown idiom tells us that if we act on something in time, it saves many future issues. It is right in every field of life, especially about our health. Some people are lucky that they do not have any serious medical problemthroughout their lifebut others are not so lucky. The luck plays some role in this, but many times it is procrastination that comes in the way, and we delay the actionSuch acts can cause lifelong damage or even death 

But then it is human nature. Another important aspect is what type of treatment should one take. People try Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurved, or some other kind including going to the sadhus in the belief that they will cure you.

It is an individual choice! Though we know the effects of delay, we keep on continuing the same mistakes. 

Jaya and I usually act fast if we find some abnormal symptoms, but that does not mean that we rush to the doctor’s clinic the moment we sneezeSome families have less knowledge about medical things, in general. It can cause delays and difficulties.  

More than a decade backI was diagnosed with hernia. The doctor said that surgery is the only option, earlier the better. He asked when I can find time for the surgery. I said, “Tomorrow morning. Do I get admitted tonight or early tomorrow morning?” He smiled and said, I am already booked for the next two days. Why don’t we do it on Friday?”  

In Nov 2013, I had a bad throat, and my voice changed. I went and saw my ENT doctor. He suggested the usual medicines, gargling in the first week. In the second, he gave me antibiotics. In the third week, he thought that he had no other option but to try steroidsWhen steroids also did not work, he suggested that I get stroboscopy done. I did it on the first of December, and it was concluded that there was a small growth on my vocal cord. The doctor said that there is a 99% chance it is a cancerous growth. Within one week, biopsy was donePatho results confirmed cancer. Within one week of confirmation, the treatment for cancer was started, which included 34 radiations besides immunotherapy! By god’s grace and also because of immediate action, I came out of cancer. I could have easily delayed by going for second opinion, third opinion, and so on. But we took a family decision to start the treatment as early as possible.  

I want to tell you one important aspect. The delay in meeting the doctors is also done by some people who are doctors themselves. will tell you a story about someone  who is a doctor. That friend was having weakness and continuous indications that something was wrong. The friend was getting tired after walking about twothree hundred steps. Another close friend was regularly following up and prodding the friend to see a specialist. Somehow the procrastination was coming in the way. Finally, the friend reached the doctors clinic. After checking, the specialist doctor said, “You need to go to a hospital right awayDon’t even go home. Call your husband and tell him to come to the hospital. I need to start your treatment right away.” After eight days of treatment, the patient went homeIt took almost six months for that friend to come back to normalI met the specialist doctor last week at a function. She said, “If your friend had delayed coming to me by a couple of days, there was a possibility that your friend could have been paralysed below the neck! How that friend of mine, who is a doctordid not understand the seriousness?  

Jaya recently underwent cataract surgery for both her eyes. She is perfectly healthy now. A relative of ours had come to meet her during that period. He had also gone through cataract surgery about one and a half years back. During the discussion, it came out that he cannot read the newspaper except the large headlines. I said cataract surgery is supposed to cure all these issues and he must recheck and take one more opinion. I coaxed him to see Jaya’s surgeon. We went, and my relative was checked. The surgeon found a significant flaw which was in his right eye after cataract surgery. The surgeon advised him to meet the topnotch expert in that field for further action. Now my relative will have corrective surgery. 

In both cases mentioned above, the patients are of my age. With the current improvement of longevity, both are likely to be around for say the next ten years. Imagine being paralysed for ten years. Think of being blind for the next ten years! Why do people not think of going to the doctor on time? What do you achieve by delaying the meeting and treatment? Such delays can land you into serious trouble, and the quality of life could be drastically reduced 

As against this, I had a friend who got a heart attack more than twentyfive years back. He was in a hospital where they did not even check his cholesterol! His financial condition was not so good. I referred him to my nephew, who is an excellent physician. Open heart surgery was financially not possible. My nephew told him that it is possible to get better with medicines which may be needed to be taken lifelong. The friend followed the instructions to the T, and he changed his lifestyle as per the doctor’s instructions. He was a big smoker; he stopped it. He is still following the guidance and well and hearty.  

Getting an excellent doctor is also part of luck, (not all doctors are competent!) but reaching them on time, and following their advice is what we must do. There is no point postponing that inevitable visit if it is neededAnother important point that comes into picture is people ask that question why me? Why so and so disease happened to me? Never ask that question because there is no answer to it. 

Along with this, there is one essential point. Which pathy to follow is an individual choice. But out of all pathy’s, Allopathy is the only pathy in which a massive amount of money is spent on research. So, there is a possibility that it might cure you better and fast. There are some diseases like jaundice which have no medicine in Allopathy. Only Ayurvedic medicine called Liv 52 works. But the overall experience of life suggests that there are some illnesses like heart attack, major kidney issues, cancer are handled efficiently by Allopathy. Strong allopathic treatment also is not able to cure such ailments. So, in such cases, it is not a good idea to go for trial and error. One should avoid another pathy’s in such cases. Side effects of allopathy are going to be part of life, but getting better is a priority, is it not?  

I will end this with a story about a hypochondriac! In my office, I had a person working with me for almost 18 years. He is still less than 40. Since the last ten years he keeps on feeling that he is unwell, sometimes would feel feverish. Sometimes he would feel chest pain, then once a while there would be fear that he might die. My nephew used to treat him. Occasionally he would check his BP, once in a while he would take his ECG. Sometimes his blood pressure was found slightly on the higher side, so BP medicine was prescribed. In last one year, he had four such anxiety/panic attacks. During his last attack, he had chest pain, and his shirt was thoroughly wet due to sweating. So, he was kept in a hospital for a couple of days. All test results were excellent, and he came out of the hospital fresh! My nephew then called me (during this episode, I was in Canada) and suggested that it is time to take him for psychiatric treatment. I have coordinated that for him, and he has had one session. According to the psychiatrist, except for some anxiety and low feeling, there is nothing wrong with him. I sincerely hope this helps him.  

Now my friends, especially those in the Golden phase of life, don’t procrastinate about that ‘dreaded” visit to the doctor. A cat has nine lives; we have only one!  

 

 

 

 

Home Sweet home!

HomeSweetHome1

When do we really start missing home? What is home? Home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. In today’s world, we travel for work, holiday or to go and stay with your family, who have moved to different places from home, temporarily or permanently. We may go to see the seven wonders of the world, or we may go to travel to live in a small town or a village. We may go to a culturally advanced place, or we may go to a drab place. But after some time, we eagerly look forward to coming back home. Why does this happen?

 The thought process about home started when Deepti wrote,   after about 45 days in the US for work and holiday, that she was missing home!

Of all the places in the world, our home is the safest place in the world for us. We can do anything at home without the fear of repercussions. Our homes are our sanctuaries. We are kings and queens of our homes. We are undisputed leaders; nobody can touch us within the precincts of our homes.

We love everything about our homes; it may be a palace, or it could be a small condo. It could be a bungalow, or it could be a shanty. But this description is for others; for us, it is our kingdom.  But we should not forget one thing. The place where we live is home. Later on, with increasing prosperity, we may buy more properties, but those are not our homes. It is at this juncture things sometimes go wrong. We purchase properties for investment purpose, but we start treating them like home.

In our busy schedule during working days, we do not get time to go and visit these properties even once in a year. If the property is in another town, then it becomes even more challenging to manage. Beyond a time, as these properties become older, their valuation also does not increase the way we want it to rise, sometimes it diminishes.

But many people fall in love with such properties. I know of someone who had a property in a different town than where he lived. The property was a 40-year-old independent bungalow and had become too costly to manage because of taxes and low rent the property fetched. Someone suggested to him to dispose off the same. He had never lived there. His reply was, “Over my dead body!” It took some convincing by friends and relatives that helped him to make that decision. I asked him once about the same. His reply was, “It was my first property; it’s like the first child. How can one dispose off the same?” I did not tell that children also become old and move in life!

We should not forget that the concept of the home also changes. As we switch from studentship to professional work, we become independent of parents. We make our own home at some stage. I had written a blog on a similar subject sometime back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/16th-august-1995-to-23rd-september-2018/

In this blog, I had written about concentric circles of our lives! When we have our family and children at some stage, we have our own home! The place which you called home in your younger days becomes your parent’s home. The same concept is going to be repeated when your children grow up, settle down and have their family. That is where the concept of ancestral home comes into the picture. In previous generations, people rarely travelled out of town for work; only girls moved to their husband’s home after marriage. The same property was home for many generations. But with today’s modern technology and way of living, the concept of ancestral home will be forgotten after a few generations. The reason for this is you had an ancestral home but moved to Bombay for work. Your children moved to London, New York or Timbuktu for their career. Some come back to India, but most don’t. The ancestral homes hence stop existing as a concept.

With increased mobility, days of ancestral homes concept is waning. But the home remains home for the nuclear families that get created in different generations. Probably we could say that longevity of the idea of home is reducing and ends with the parents who “created” the home.

Every home has its memories, its stories, the happy moments and the sad moments. I remember my first “home” which was at Dhobi talao in Bombay. What memories I have! Catching an early morning bus to go to school; it was G3 at 6.15 am and meeting Pradeep! Coming home by lunch-time; memories of listening to cricket test-match commentary of tied match between Australia and West Indies are still fresh in my mind. There was a rule at home not go to the Cross Maidan to play before 4.30 pm. But we used to sneak out under the garb of completing home-work at some friend’s place. Half the time my mother had to send someone to bring me back home from the ground though we had a rule that we should be back home when it started getting dark.

Our first home in Pune after marriage was the most fun part. Jaya and I were the first ones to get married in our group. Every day, some friends would barge in for a chat, food and whatever till they were thrown out. Some friends would come prepared to cook chicken; some would urge Jaya to plan on the previous day so that they could have Sabudana (Sago) Khichadi the next day.

Home is something which is a great leveller, makes everyone a family person. That person could be a famous Surgeon or a Scientist. She could be CEO of an organisation or a Minister in a Government. But at home, these same luminaries are converted into a different person. Their personality changes and they become mothers, fathers, uncles. They may also become sisters or brothers or aunts. My friends, this is the power of “Home”! Each home has its own Ramayana and Mahabharata which others rarely see or visualise.

We have all seen how people’s personalities are very different when they come from broken homes. They have no shoulder to cry on; they have nobody to share their sorrows. The home gives shade to the family like a banyan tree against the harshness, that is life; but when that tree itself falls, people seem to get exposed to the vagaries of nature. Home is an umbrella that prevents you from sudden rains. For us, home is only next to God. When a human is in turmoil, a person goes to a church or a mandir. It gives them mental peace and solace. You had a bad day office; you lost a big opportunity in business. You accidentally bumped your car into the one ahead of you! After reaching home and sitting in your favourite window or on a pet chair, your agitation tapers off.

Home is a powerful institution created by us, let us try to preserve it and not flog it! It can absorb many shocks but remember that this shock absorber cannot be just bought from a shop and replaced when damaged!

Deepti, you must be back home already; our flight just had taken off from Frankfurt today, when yours landed there on the way back to Pune. Take care and enjoy our dear Pune again!

Emotional Turmoil!

While writing two blogs about my friend Prakash regarding the major catastrophic event he and his family had gone through, I never realised the emotional turmoil I was going through. My endeavour while writing is always to make the least number of errors, both grammatical and factual. For this purpose, I had to refer to the book written by Kavita about the event, a few times. Every time I skimmed the book, the reading process did some more churning in my mind, as I read a few paragraphs. The pictures of what the family had gone through kept floating before me.  

Today’s blog came up as I read a news item in today’s newspapers, which rekindled the old memories and reminded me of the story of another friend. This story is again very touching! This friend of mine was a friend from my Bombay days. We were neighbours, he was one-year senior to me. As was typical of those days, we spent evenings playing tennis ball cricket on their terrace. He came from an upper-middle-class family, had a well-appointed home, went to a convent school. These things of course never came in between our friendship; honestly, I never realised his financial situation in those days. His father was our family doctor, so when the doctor was at home, we would be a little under pressure! The friend was ever smiling, but he was not what can be called as a mixing type.  

As so happens, we lost touch around the time when I was in tenth grade. A few years later, I moved for my engineering course to Pune. One of my classmates had also moved to join the medical curriculum at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Pune. Once when we went there to meet my classmate, I bumped into this old friend, who was also learning to become a doctor. Our friendship was renewed, and we kept in touch intermittently.

As our education was getting completed, I heard that he got engaged to his classmate. I was so happy for him. Then came the news, later, that they had broken off! Later on, our friend went to England and settled there. Another 45 years passed as we again had lost touch. Once I was scanning the Facebook and searched for my friend and lo! There he was! I sent him a private message. I, of course, called him by the nickname from childhood. I shared my email id with him.  

A couple of weeks later, I received an email from him and was I happy! He said, “Pramod, it’s sheer luck that I got your message on Facebook; I was about to close my account on Facebook.” Then he gave details.  

He became a surgeon and lived in Northern England all his life. It appears that he did not travel much to India. He did quite well financially. He did not marry, he never explained hence I never asked. Then he was reminiscent about Bombay days. Our school days full of tennis ball cricket in the evenings. When it became dark, we would chat about everything in the world, until we were called home. Our email exchange continued sporadically, and we became comfortable with each other.  

Then in one of the emails, I shared with him how I went through Cancer treatment, end of 2013! Since he was a doctor, I shared with him as many medical details as possible. His reply was very positive and helped me to understand some more things from a medical perspective. I was surprised by his in-depth knowledge about cancer. He was a surgeon, but he was not an Onco Surgeon. From his next mail, I understood the background about his depth of knowledge. He had also suffered cancer of the throat region and had gone through massive doses of chemotherapy. Then he revealed a piece of very shocking information.

He wrote, “Pramod, after taking treatments for a few months, one of my doctor colleagues (who was my Onco surgeon) had a “doctor to doctor” talk with me. He said that the chances of my surviving beyond six weeks were remote. Why don’t you inform your family?” From what I knew, he did not have much contact with his family.  But he also wrote, “At the end of one month, a procedure was done. Suddenly after that procedure, my health started improving. The doctors have now removed me from the critical list and my current status at this time is “managing cancer”. I may require chemo once in a while as sustenance dose.” 

Well, this is not the story! The story started after this, at least for me! He once informed me that he was coming down to Pune for his medical college reunion. I was thrilled, and I said that we should meet. I told him, “Taj Blue Diamond will be the convenient hotel for you!” He said, “Pramod, there is one issue that I have not shared with you. When I was told that my days were numbered to six weeks, I got my lawyer and liquidated my fixed assets quickly, and I had substantial liquid money too! I organised and distributed 90% of assets to charities. Kept about 10% for unseen expenses, if required, after my death. Now with my health improving, I am seriously short of funds, but luckily, I have a pension! So, I am managing somehow. I came to know about this reunion and decided to attend, probably my first and the last one! So, staying at Taj is out of the question!” 

I thought, Oh, my god! How has this happened? He had many expenses, but luckily his most medical costs were covered under British Medical System. But overall, he was going through tough times. Other than his pension, he had no income. What turn can life take!  As he was past retirement age and in ill health, he could not work again.

This story again put me in severe turmoil, my mind was churning, and I did not know how to handle this. There was no way I could pay for his stay in Pune, he just would have refused.  

There is another twist to the story. I knew the dates for my friend’s stay in Pune. He had said that he would call me when he came to Pune. He did call, but somehow, I missed the call. During that period there were many phone calls to me from unknown numbers. So, I wrote him an email. He wrote back to me saying that he was sad that we missed out on meeting each other in Pune. He was back in England.  

After this episode, the frequency of our communication has dwindled down to a trickle; this has nothing to do with missing each other in Pune. My last couple of emails have remained unanswered. I must find out about our friend, and I hope that he is doing alright.

I am still very uneasy! Emotional turmoil continues!

Saxophone or Mercedes!

Passion or Bucket List was the title I had given to this blog but during a review, I felt that I should change it. Hence the name Saxophone or Mercedes!

Recently the expression Bucket List has come into vogue! I had not got into details of this and I had always thought that this a list which one prepares of things to be done or achieved, before one’s time on the earth is over. But in recent discussions with friends, it was generally expressed, as a list of places to visit, before you die.

But the formal definition of Bucket List is a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

Similarly, we humans have an emotion, “Passion”.  Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards or compelling desire for someone or something. Passion can range from eager interest in or admiration for an idea, proposal, or cause; to the enthusiastic enjoyment of an interest or activity; too strong an attraction, excitement, or emotion towards a person. It is particularly used in the context of romance or sexual desire, though it generally implies a deeper or more encompassing emotion than that implied by the term lust.

These two terms are connected. I feel that unless you have the passion there cannot be a bucket list. Most people live life but a few live it with passion.  The third slide with names of Einstein and Opnehimer is included becasue Passion is the genesis of the genius!

I was lucky to take a photo of the house where Einstein lived in Bern, Switzerland.IMG_20170909_144057 (2)

What after all is passion? Passion is something we live for, it may be art, it may be a sport, it may be a product that you design, it could be music that one creates. Behind every passionate person, there is a lot of hard work, in today’s IT buzzwords back office work. A passionate person appears to be in a hyper state because the person has to do many other things, on the side, to achieve his final goal; not only that but he keeps on doing it all through his life. The explanation below will give the meaning of the hard work and thinking needed to achieve your passion.

  1. Set your Goals
    1. Obviously, the first step in achieving anything is setting the goals or targets. Without the targets, we don’t know the path to take and we will let our life take its own course. Goals will put you on the path. You set goals because you want to achieve something, you are passionate about something.
  2. Understand the obstacles
    1. When you have set goals, obstacles will be there. But the passion will ensure that you will plan to overcome these obstacles in advance. The passion in you will never allow you to change the goal. In fact, the passionate you will resolve to overcome these obstacles by setting up a target to overcome them.
  3. Create a positive mental picture
    1. There will many problems  and there could be many problems which we may not visualize while planning. But the passionate person will budget for such problems and overcome them, and move ahead with a positive mental frame.
  4. Clear your mind of self-doubt
    1. When you are taking a different path or an uncharted challenge having self-doubts is possible. But passion will pull you through this phase and push you on the right path.
  5. Embrace the challenge
    1. No challenge is too big when you have the passion to achieve things. Adversities, doubts and obstacles are part of the path one has chosen; embrace the challenge to march towards your goal.
  6. Stay on track
    1. While you are trying to achieve the target or a goal, there could be mini targets on the side; there will be difficulties galore. Staying on track is possible only if you are passionate.
  7. Show the world you can do it
    1. Though you are trying to reach the goal, especially when it’s a tough, world in general, may be hoping that you fail. Keep focus and show the world you can do it.

A close friend is a surgeon. He is passionate about the medical field and keeps pride in achieving great success in exact diagnosis. He is a couple of years senior to me. Once when I went to him for an advice, he said, “Pramod, I will show you something new that I have bought.” He had bought an expensive equipment which would help him in improving his diagnosis quality. He was very happy to show me the details, which I could see in his eyes. He asked me my opinion about the procurement. I told him that I was very happy for him that he was able to pursue his dream of bettering himself, professionally. His establishment is in an area of Pune city where his patients come from financially lower and middle strata of the society.  He said, “Pramod, by God’s grace I have done well financially, so I have decided not to increase fees.” He further said that some people celebrate their success by buying a Mercedes car. “Pramod, this is my Merc!” This is passion for you! All his other friends had told him that he was crazy to waste money on such projects.

Another friend, an engineer, retired from a large organization as a General Manager. While he was working, once I had gone to meet him for some work. He wound up his discussions with colleagues and suggested that they meet the next day. He then said, “Pramod, I want your opinion!”. I jokingly told him that since he was sitting on the right side of the table how my opinion would be of any value? He said, “Pramod, I am serious. Forget the work. I want to buy a Saxophone. Tell me if I should buy it.” I knew his love for music. I also knew that Saxophone was reasonably expensive but I said that he should go ahead and buy it if he could afford it. I also suggested his neighbours should not be disturbed! He said, “The math works out and I am going to create one sound proof pad at home so as not to disturb the neighbours!” I said then simply go ahead! His eyes sparkled. Same old story! He said, “All other people whom I asked said come on buddy. Don’t waste precious resources”. I told him, “To hell with others, go ahead! with your passion” He did it. Now post-retirement he has formed a troupe and gives professional music performances! He is enjoying this more than his engineering career!

To me, Passion and Bucket List are almost like synonyms. Without passion how will have Bucket List? Bucket list is a by product of passion! Some people follow their passion and make it their career and others just do their career, as it comes. Let passion drive you, Bucket List will follow it automatically. But saying that you should follow your passion is easy but actually doing it is not so easy! I found some sayings which explain this perfectly!

  • Renew your passions dailyThe meaning of this is never give up on your passion!
  • Never underestimate the power of passionNeed I say more?
  • Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion Is this not obvious?
  • There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life– Sounds very familiar to me
  • If passion drives you, let reason hold the reinsThis the practical advice of a person who has lived a passionate life.

I had told you to live life with passion your Bucket List will follow you! 🙂🙂🙂

Bucket list

Heer Ranza or Romeo Juliet!

This is a love song from a movie Jab Kisise Pyar Hota Hai (1961). The lovers say,  “I have loved you since last hundred years and will keep on doing so for ever!”  A typical fantasy!

Marriage or union of two persons for life brings stories of Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza, in front of our eyes. (Life has become trickier with same-sex marriages and all!) Our literature romanticizes the union and we all think that life is full of roses. But after some time, these beautiful roses start to wither and petals are what we are left with. I am not a pessimist but these are the facts of life! A relationship between husband and wife are never as romantic or rosy as they seem from distance. I had mentioned this in a blog I had written a month back where I wrote about friendship.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/human-nature-a-mystery/

To me, marriages are of two types. Historically, we married for logical reasons but lately, some marriages are based on feelings. Marriage based on romance and love are the imaginations of writers and poets! Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza never had to discuss, EMI’s, promotions, illnesses, and yes, children, that are the result of the initial passion, remnants of the times when petals had not started falling down.

Current descriptions, love marriage and arranged marriage are also ways to describe of how people get married. In olden days, love marriages were a rarity but in modern times with males and females living independently, before marriage, in large cities and getting opportunities to meet each other in a no family settings, leads to love marriages and of course, sometimes to live-in relationships.

For most of the recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons because you were neighbours and were equals in the society, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the General Manager in a factory, there was a farmhouse close to city to keep up, or both sets of parents were from the of same caste and creed (politically correct word for this is Biradari), or were members of the same club. But once you reached the petals stage, from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, a hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feelings — are taking its place.

Why do the famous roses start withering? Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when the person agrees with you. (By that time the other person is furious, is another story) Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of informing us. One of the privileges of before marriage is, the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Before getting married, couples should ask a question to each other, “How crazy are you”? Because each individual has some quirks and without getting married and intimate, most of these will remain hidden. A very smart hubby might turn out “momma’s boy” or may love to burp after each meal; or smart wife of yours, of bouncy and fluffy hair might be applying tons of pungent oil to her hair before sleeping!

Before getting married, the couple and their family generally check a few things. We try to understand the person and the family. We visit their homes. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. But we haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be! We never make an attempt to find out the so-called “hidden” stuff! Most people don’t hide things purposely but they remain hidden because they were not checked. For example, a family may be very stingy or overly flamboyant!

We need to swap the Romantic view for an awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will  do the same to them, too. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This pessimistic thinking  offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of our partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. These are the brass tacks of life!

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since the two met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason. To me, instinct is better than centuries old thoughts of unreasonable reasoning.

When Jaya and I got married at an early age, she had a teaching job and I was in the final term of graduate study. Instinct told us that “the stars” would match. Young age helped us overcoming the petal phase very easily because of lack of maturity. We had almost no professional experience hence whenever we discussed any differences of opinion, these were just that, discussion about differences of opinion! They never turned out into minutes of meeting kind of thing! During our last meeting…. blah, blah, blah! During these discussions, we learned to accommodate each other’s thoughts, ways of expressing things. (This is what maturity is all about!) No strong argument is good or bad; couples come to understand, over a period, the acceptable standards of nasty levels! We started understanding what other did not like! In courtship and honeymoon phase, the couples are literally on the moon! So, when the aircraft lands on the earth, quirks and warts become visible! Each human being has different moods through the day, like our blood pressure or sugar level keeps on going up and down! You can’t be in love 24/7!

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us. Perhaps we were in an office picnic, a new year party, we were together during a hike, with the evening sun setting behind the hills, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the promise of dinner in the Chinese restaurant a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. So next best is that we learnt to say after a particularly strong disagreement, “Honey, how about dinner at that Chinese place?”

Dr. No…! Or Dr. Knows!

Whenever there is a discussion taking place about medical field, most of the reactions are, “These guys always cheat!” It is like a popular phrase in not so rich a country like India, “All business people are profit mongering thieves!” This sentence is contradictory. Business is an activity of making one’s living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (goods and services). The definition clearly states that it is an activity for making money. It is also said that doing a job is noble thing to do but we forget that when we do a job, we do it for someone who is doing business!

This discussion came about during a chitchat at home where five of the family members were doctors. Subject for discussion was basically how much is the right fee for medical advice, surgery, tests etc. Tests performed are standard procedures where almost identical methods are used for evaluation. The only difference could be a little more automation and sophistication of equipment. So, fees here should be uniform. But ultimately charges are market driven. Consultation and surgery fees will differ as these are dependent on individual skills and expertise.

A doctor friend of mine bought a modern computerized x ray machine. I asked him why did he buy this expensive machine. His reply was very different and interesting. He is my age. He said, “Pramod what is your opinion about my buying this machine.” I said, “Fantastic! Now you will be able to judge patient’s problems better!” His establishment is in the older part of our city where rates for services are generally inexpensive. He told me, “You are one of the very few who has appreciated my going with latest technology, most said what is use if you are not going charge fancy rates.” His further comment was most interesting. He said, “Pramod, consider this as my Mercedes! I would rather move around in a Wagon R as roads in this area are small and congested. I enjoy using this modern equipment, as it helps me improve my diagnosis.”

Among all the pathy’s, we have to accept a fact that only in Allopathy, a lot of research is taking place. All this research is sponsored by pharma companies, who else will do it? It is the business of pharma companies to find new drugs which help improve treatment and rate of cure. Fifty years back, when cancer was detected, death was imminent. There was no chance of cure. This was happening because the equipment of those days, knowledge of doctors, quality of drugs created a situation where it was always too late! But now all these things have improved so much that detection is early, equipment and drugs are better and so is knowledge of doctors. This has resulted in improving cure rate tremendously. When research is done a lot of money is invested. The companies try to get ROI as early as possible (it makes business sense) but when they get competition the prices of new drugs or equipment start tapering off fast. The pharma companies are not thieves; they are investing a lot of money for betterment of themselves and also of the mankind. It is duty of pharma companies to be profitable on behalf of the share holders as they are not a charity organization.

I am not saying that all the pharma companies are saints and there are bound to be black sheep. But this is true in all fields and in all pathy’s. It’s human nature to cheat but this % is generally similar everywhere. Also, like in every field there are checks and balances. There are organizations and associations which track malpractice. I will give you an example. Years back one of the giant pharma company’s sales guy met a doctor in Harvard Medical School. He suggested to the doctor, that if the doctor prescribed certain drugs to patients, they would pay US $ 5000/ month. The doctor promptly reported this offer to his management. There was a court case and the pharma company was fined US $ 940/ million! This still does not mean that such things are not happening but these are not as rampant as they are said to happen.

There is another theory. The threshold values of BP, Diabetes, Cholesterol are changed frequently to suit the pharma companies. This is done with the help of famous doctors. During last fifty years computerization has helped medical field as it has helped all other fields too! These threshold values are not absolute values. Medical fraternity decides this based on the study of large number of patients over a large period of time. Finally, they average it out. What computerization has done is that collecting data and processing it has become extremely accurate and fast. Previously it was taking maybe 30 to 40 years to analyze changes due to manual methods, now this is done every 10 to 15 years! Hence, we notice these changes introduced, as the changes are more frequent! Another reason for this is that in the modern world of internet, news and information spreads really fast!

The fees charged by doctors, medicines prescribed by them, methods followed by them are based on their knowledge and experience; obviously the fees are market driven too! We hear the stories about doctor A squeezes the patients but doctor B does not. The fees charged by these professionals are absolutely market driven. Do you know what fees are charged by Supreme court lawyers? Sometimes these are in lacs per day. I know of one patent attorney who charges about 20 k per hour! Heart Surgeons charge in lacs for bypass surgeries.

Now a new trend has started in medical field about which we all need to be careful. Dental technicians now start their own clinics and charge 1/5 th of the fees charged by the dentists. Many of their patients end up, going to real dentist after wasting money and sometimes with incorrect treatment.  Dieticians suggest diets to people sometimes without knowing medical history of patients. When I said this during a discussion, one of my friends was angry. He said, “Doctors have no clue about diets!” I asked him, “What clue do dieticians have about medical side of the person?” There are certain orthopedic technicians who start their own practice. Physiotherapists have started their own practice. One person has ten bed facility to give traction. I know of someone who has taken 40 plus traction sessions of one hour each, from this person, without medical advice. Traction is suggested by Orthopedic Surgeons based on certain criteria. Many patients take treatment from Physiotherapists without even taking advice from Orthopedic Surgeons. Patients go by treatments suggested by non doctors!

I am not saying that everything is hunky dory in the medical field. Major errors do happen even in case of celebrities. Hema Malini’s mother was operated upon right leg while she had problem on her left leg. That too in a hospital in New York. Mistakes and goof ups are part and parcel of this field. If you want to know first-hand, how things do go wrong, read a book by Dr. Atul Gavande, “Checklist Manifesto”! Atul is well-known Indian born surgeon who lives in America. Dentists have told me patients come to them after being treated by other doctors where they have undergone root canal treatment. On re checking they have found that the cheats had never performed root canal!

I will round up with a very interesting story told to me by my Daughter Dr. Priya. She is a pediatric dentist. An eight-month old baby was brought to her. The parents said that the baby had a gold tooth, yes Gold Tooth! 3 to 4 other dentists had already seen the baby and had declared that this gold tooth must be removed and can be done only under general anesthesia.  Parents naturally did not want treatment under anesthesia. Priya checked the baby and used a small tool to check the “gold tooth”. She just gave a small jerk and out came the gold tooth! Well it was an ear piece which the baby’s mother had lost, stuck in the baby’s mouth. Time taken ten seconds, anesthesia not needed, fees 0.00 rupees!

Friends, select your doctor in such a way that you get a great treatment if needed. And Yes! Don’t be scared, there are goof ups as in any field but % of cheats is also similar to any other field!