Does anyone read your blog, Pramod?

I publish my blogs on WordPress and share them with friends on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and email. One friend from on a WhatsApp group wrote to me a poignant message, “Pramod? Anybody reading your blog? 😄😄” Honestly, I do not know how I should react to such comments. By the way, on our group itself, there was a big discussion on the blog referred by this friend, which was the result of many people reading my blog.

By remaining silent, I may encourage him to write more such remarks. If I had replied to my friend, I would not have gained anything. I don’t need to explain and justify to anyone why I write blogs. Writing has now become part of my daily routine. I feel very uncomfortable if I am not able to read or write on any day. So, it would be like explaining to my friend why I breathe!

Then a thought came to my mind; the WhatsApp group which I am talking about are my classmates who are mostly in the age group of 70 plus. Recently one of our classmates celebrated his 75th birthday. So, my friends are getting older. Old age brings specific difficulties as you age. A few friends have only biologically aged, but some have aged mentally also. Illnesses are something totally different. Diseases can catch you unawares at any age; nobody is ever prepared for serious illness. But I also want to share with you that some of my friends have remained quite fit; they still travel and work. Some others are mentally very alert and enjoy life fully in the golden phase of life.

I am sharing my thoughts about those friends who are unwell, not fit enough or those who have decided that they have become old. The idea came in my mind after reading the lovely message sent by my friend, which was discussed above. I feel bad for him. Is he unwell? Is he mentally disturbed for some reason? I am also going to share the experiences of other friends and how some of them handled tough situations.

Let me start with our friend. I had called him a few months back to find out how he was. He said that currently, he was not keeping good health and hence did not feel like attending group meetings. I assumed that he must be getting himself treated by doctors. But his messages on the group indicate that something is not right. He writes vague; he sometimes asks meaningless questions. Sometimes he asks queries about some messages after a week. Maybe he is not using WhatsApp regularly. But the quality of his messages indicates that he should take more care of his health. Initially, he used to send messages about some unproven non-conventional treatments on serious ailments like cancer! Even after suggesting to refrain from posting such messages, he continued. At the end of one group dinner, I had to publicly tell him the ill effects of sending details about unproven treatment for severe illnesses like cancer. Before he questioned me about my knowledge on the subject, I told him, “Last year, I was treated for cancer for three months. I am talking from my personal experience.”

I will share some good sides also from the group! All of us were together in Engineering College (COEP) in Pune. During our careers, many have done well. But it is interesting to know what some of us are doing during the golden phase of life. Vilas has become a well-known palmist and teaches palmistry. He is very busy doing what he enjoys. Vasant has gone into social work but never talks about it unless asked. Another friend is active in writing about Tatwadyan. A friend Suresh still works full time but takes Yoga courses in Sydney, Australia. Rajendra has kept himself busy in teaching Brahmavidya. I want to tell him jokingly that he is more active now than he used to be during his career.

I write blogs on varied subjects but never wrote anything about our group. Our friend Shashi is instrumental in getting and keeping people together. He comes up with novel ideas and starts some discussion on a subject. Such messages invoke a lot of comments and reviews which includes criticism too. But these things make the group lively. Another activity we have on the group is solving puzzles Sudhakar and Shriniwas are the maths wizards from the group. Hats off to them. They are very comfortable with anything to do with maths.

For obvious reasons I am not writing the names of some friends when I write about them. A couple of them are down with paralysis — one since about ten months and the other for almost two and a half years. One of them also needs the support of the pacemaker for his heart! Friends go and meet them because of the restrictions on the movement. A friend is going through chemotherapy every month. He has 15 bad days every month. But all of them are bravely facing what destiny has given them.

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-18 at 17.47.27

I found this beautiful message on the internet and found that it is very appropriate. These friends who are going through significant illnesses, and are handling them bravely. One of our friends has almost become blind due to diabetes issues. How can we contribute to making their life a little more exciting? In the same vein as in the message above I will say, “Let our friends enjoy our WhatsApp banter. It is their only current way of communicating daily with many friends. We should show them empathy- I will never use the word “Sympathy”. These are our brave friends, so they need empathy. On the group, there are specific rules and regulation which all must follow, but if these friends break the norms once in a while, we can softly and personally inform them, or the best way will be to talk to them. Don’t forget that a friend has 15 bad days every month. Other friends are going through the tough grind every day. At least to me, their words will be like a beautiful song to me; let us not have cages made of stringent rules. We need not be very rigid!  Provide them with a tree to sit on! If in our golden period, we are not able to empathise and give love to others, when are we going to do it? We need to throw away that small word EGO from our system, which will make us softer and better human beings.

To my dear friend who asked me if anyone reads my blogs! Friend, why not try and read some of my blogs. Especially read the current one. It is about love and empathy. Throw the ego and sarcasm away. Have you forgotten that we have two gems or diamonds, in our group, whichever way you want to describe? Sonya and Pravin! How much pleasure do they give us by sharing their paintings, poems, small gems of information from literature or old poems? Pravin has lately become शीघ्र कवी. He quickly writes poems on the current topics of discussions. He recited some of them during Poona Club lunch; you missed them.

Finally, reply to your query. First, there is one person who reads my blog, me! 🙂🙂 Friend one of my blogs last year was read by 675 people, and a recent one was read by 350 people. In a year, thousands read my blogs from the world over. How do I know this? Whenever anyone reads my blog, I get a message that is how I know the details. If you have the fear that I am making money on writing blogs, no, I am not! Are you even aware that Vijay Saheta has already written his first blog a couple of weeks back? Ravi Mahuli writes hundreds of blogs about Ved and Tatwadyan. So please try and keep your mind open. Try and read a few. Maybe you would start writing blogs about your favourite subject, Farmers and their issues!  Do some research, and you will know that the blog can be written in any language.

I love when people ask me questions about what I write. It helps me improve further and makes me think differently, thereby increasing my horizon. Your three or four words gave me a subject for the blog! A big thank you!

Advertisements

Just a coincidence!

complex1

I reached Montreal on the 29th August and published a blog “Home sweet home!” My friend Ram, who is currently in the US, wrote to me, “Hey, you just reached Montreal today, and writing about Sweet Home!” Ram, as usual, it was an incomplete blog, which I had started a couple of weeks back. I just found an appropriate ending when Deepti wrote about missing the sweet home! I simply used the sentence.

Many of my blogs are written based on a sentence or a phrase! Some of these instantly create a chain of thoughts in my mind, and I end up writing the blog. While going through the list of blogs, I found some blogs that matched the way I have described above.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/nisi-nisi-bonum/

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (“Of the dead, [say] nothing but good”) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. The long-phrase is abbreviated as Nil nisi bonum. In English are often used some aphorisms, which include: “Speak no ill of the dead”, “Of the dead, speak no evil”, and “Do not speak ill of the dead”.

The phrase was used in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. When I heard this sentence, many thoughts came to my mind. I was confused if this is right or wrong. The first thought that came to my mind was why we should speak badly about anyone! You may not be on good terms with someone, but there is no reason to bad mouth that person. As against this, should we praise someone, who did terrible things in life, ad nauseum after death? As Nisi Nisi Bonum is true, so is praising someone over the top is also not good.

An industrialist in Pune died sometime back. He made his money by manufacturing and selling products which caused cancer. With money, he became a society leader. He opened a hospital to treat cancer patients. On one side, he manufactured addictive products that caused cancer, and on the other hand, he built a hospital to treat them. Cynics called that hospital “Customer complaint Center!” Was it right to follow such a business model? Was it right to glorify such a personality after he died? People could have simply declared sorrow due to his death, but there was no need to call him “Gem of a person”! Or talk about his charitable work.

 https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/turn-into-cotton/

The blog is about a statement made by Raj Babbar. Sometime back he was the president of state Congress in UP. In one of the reorganisations, he was removed from the post and made a plain member. When he was asked his reaction, he quoted from a Hindi poem by Kedarnath Sinhji.

The lines roughly get translated as below.

When I entered my home today, my mattress offered me its resignation — telling me that it wants to become the original cotton, that it was to start with, anyway! It indicated that it wants to go back to its roots.  

It was a beautiful way of accepting life as it came. In sports or job, one retires when the time comes. But in the public domain, it is not so easy. One gets a lot of power as well as affection, (or enemies!). To walk away from it, is not as simple as the lines of the poem.

Humans have inherent and intrinsic capacities and properties within them. No one is born at the top of the heap. People work hard and reach the pinnacle of their life, but life’s vagaries bring them back to where they started. People move to different destinations in the world, physically and by their achievements. But the beautifully solid lines tell you to be ready to come back to roots.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/pet-the-whale/

The blog is about people looking at life differently. I have shared a story of a group of people who went on an excursion to watch the whales from close quarters. As they reached the place where whales could be seen, something different happened. These people could have easily touched or petted the whale; they were so close to the boat. But none did that. All were very busy taking videos and photos of the whales. After coming back to the shore, someone asked them, “Did you Pet the whale?” All had missed the great opportunity. They were busy taking photos and videos. In life, we tend to lose the real purpose of what we are really looking for, but we tend to capture things for posterity. In the false enthusiasm, we tend to miss the happening moment. We lose absorbing The Moment!

We had been to watch Pelican feeding time at the Entrance beach near Sydney, Australia with Pradhans. We did take some photos, but most of the time we observed how the birds arrived and landed like aeroplanes, how all of them raised their neck synchronously to watch fish which was thrown in the air, their feed! What a beautiful sight it was? These memories are etched on our mind instead of on our camera!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/dance-of-the-seven-veils/

Below poem by Oscar Wilde is supposed to be the origin of an erotic dancing style. It is, of course, not true!

She freed and floated on the air her arms

Above dim veils that hid her bosom’s charms…

The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists

Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.

The “Dance of the Seven Veils” was a term used by a father, in a book I was reading. The sentence was meant to describe the behaviour or thought process of the 22-year young man while he ogled at a beautiful nurse in the hospital, while recuperating .

It was a veiled way of describing the thought process of a man. The term was also used to describe a dance where the lady’s sensuous body is under the veil of seven layers of clothing. The lady removes these veils during the dance, which could be described both as sensuous as well as erotic. During writing this blog, it brought in my mind many layers of coverings that many fruits have Jackfruit, Coconut, Mango, and many others. The word seven veils also brought out thoughts about the human mind. The complexity of the human mind could be compared with the seven layers, and in many cases infinite layers. Very rarely do we know the real person, though that person may be close to us. Different situations bring our fascinating aspects about humans same as the dance does about the woman’s body in the Dance of the Seven Veils!

Ram, writing of blogs is a complex as well as a simple process. It is like our life. We humans by nature are simple creatures, but our situation, our environments are complex. Each simple individual reacts differently in his own simple way, which on crisscrossing become complex!

See how I converted a simple query by you, in a complicated blog! Cheers!

Human Traits!

The more we live in this world, the less you are surprised with human reactions. Poorest of the poor will share food with the needy, and the rich guy will not give a morsel to the deserving. I am talking about human behaviour and the so-called traditions that are followed in our society. Now that I am near the seventh decade in life, I get a feeling that I have been there and I have done that. Nothing will now surprise me anymore. I suddenly come across surprises.

We have a lady who does cleaning work at home. She is 36 years of age and quite a chirpy lady. She asked Jaya for a couple of days leave as her daughter was to travel back to her husband’s home. Surprise one. The daughter was here for the birth of her second child. Thirty-six years of age and the second grandchild. Oh! Maharashtra is a progressive state; child marriages have stopped long back. I asked Jaya why does she need a couple of days of leave? There is a tradition in their family, that when the daughter goes home after delivery, her inlaws are gifted with 150 Puran Polis! Puran Poli is a Maharashtrian delicacy; it’s a bread with a sweet filling and very tricky to make. In the current summer weather, the Poli can quickly get spoiled! But who cares, there is a tradition, and it must be followed. How can any family finish 150 Polis before they get spoiled? But logic is not part of the culture. The anecdote is from the family who are in the lower economic strata. The expense to make the Polis must have been around Rs.1000/. That is a lot of money for her plus several hours of efforts.

But here is one about people from very high economic levels. There is a housing society in Pune Called Himali Soc. It is one of the oldest high-end housing societies with row houses and condos. In Pune, we usually have water scarcity during the summer, especially when the monsoon gets delayed. The people from that society complained to the municipal corporation about the water supply. Since the problem was not getting resolved, the society people kept on complaining. Finally, the corporation sent a team of people to check the issue. They found that there was no apparent issue with the supply side. Still, the problems in homes persisted. They started checking individual dwellings. They were shocked to find out that out of 30-row houses, 25 had installed pumps, to pull the water from the main supply line. Using pumps is strictly against the law. They acted immediately and confiscated all 25 water pumps. These are supposedly highly educated, sophisticated people living in a high-end society. But they were in the least bothered about the law and the inconvenience it caused to others. I am sure most of the people must be leaders in their own fields. For small gain, they behaved in an incorrigible way. Is this fair? Is it the right thing to do? These people could have easily bought their drinking water supply if required. Friends, do you approve of such behaviour?

Then there is one funny story about a petty criminal. The person is 49 years of age and is a habitual offender. Sometime back he had a minor fight with a cigarette kiosk owner. The criminal beat the owner and stole a few thousand rupees from him. He was duly caught by the police and kept in the lock-up at the Police Station. At night, he started making noise, shouting and created a big ruckus. He had a habit of making a show which an outsider would think that the person is mentally derailed, almost on the verge of being mad. Most of the times, the Police would get fed up with him and his noise. The situation would ensure that the Police release him. The officer in charge that night was a smart person. He decided to send him to a large hospital to check his mental health. The doctors put him in the psychiatric patient’s ward. The patients from the ward, started to interact with our petty criminal, they would hug him, they would shout at him. They would scream at him. On the third day, the criminal got both scared and fed up. When the Police team came to check about his health condition, he privately told them that he was wrong and he would never throw the tantrums again, ever. He requested them to remove him from the ward. He now behaves appropriately in the jail without troubling anybody.

Modern technology has achieved a couple of great things. It has given a gift of longevity to people in India and has brought old friends together. Whether longevity is a boon or bane depends on individuals and their attitude towards life. I have observed that people die much later these days. In my father’s generation, dying after a few years after retirement was the norm. When people died between 60 and 70 of age, it was not a surprise. But now this range has moved more towards 75 to 80. As usual, it has its pro and cons. One thing is your attitude and secondly the money. You now need more money after retirement than you would need previously. Once you are sure that there is enough money, then it is up to you to see how you remain happy.

From one of my groups, people have been doing many things; we are all around the age of 70. Pravin, the singer, has now started writing poems and does some paintings. Sudhakar has been doing lovely pictures for quite some time. Hemant remains busy as the board of director for several organisations. Vasant is active with social work. Another friend takes discourse on religious matters. One more friend has formally learnt to perform puja and goes to various homes as a priest. Suresh teaches yoga on weekends in Sydney, Australia. Surendra has passed a competitive exam and now is going to take admission to a full-time course to become a lawyer. I have now joined an online course at Oxford University for creative writing. Two or three friends have already checked with me the procedure to start a blog site on WordPress.

You must be wondering why I am telling you all this. Friends remaining busy is in our hands. First and foremost, we must remember that we are not immortals. Ill health, poor eyesight, physical disabilities are going to be part of our lives one day.  We may become bedridden for some time. But we should not get discouraged by what is going to happen in future. People do many new things post-retirement, you need to find your path to enjoy life, to find happiness. So are we going to give up?

People from our age group and above can set standards for future generations about positive attitude. Let us help overcome the negativity of the so-called traditions. Our “rich” traditions will continue, unfortunately. In countries like Japan, people handle their lives on their own, happily in the age group above 80. They have been doing it for many generations. By showing that you can be happy even at a late stage in life, we can make this a better world! Let’s do it!

I am an Indian with Birth rights!

 

Traffic2Lokmanya Tilak had said, “Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it”! Swarajya is self-government. Tilak had said this when the Britishers were ruling India. As a society, we take certain sayings by great men like Tilak seriously, especially when it suits us. This morning I went for my morning walk and enjoyed the lovely weather. Near our home there is an excellent and broad street with trees; most of the establishments on the street are commercial. Hence at 5.30 in the morning, it is an ideal road for a walk. Suddenly, I saw that there was a cluster of 50 to 70 motorcycles and about a hundred plus young men. I had seen them yesterday too, but I thought maybe they are meeting there to start a walk or run a race!

But today I saw a truck, and there was lighting on the footpath that could be seen from a distance. I thought that there could be some film shooting taking place. But when I went near, I saw that there were heaps of milk pouches manufactured by six or eight different companies. Total milk lying on footpath must have been about five hundred litres. At Rs.40/ litre its cost would be Rs. Twenty thousand, and per month billing would be Rs. Six lacs or 0.6/ million and per year turnover of Rs. 7.2/ million. Not bad! But the gentleman who was running the show was using a public place to run a biggish business. At that time of the day, no authorities would be awake to check this misuse! It was the business man’s birthright as an Indian citizen.

One aside in this story. After the milk was distributed, all the used plastic bags  employed as bulk carriers were strewn on the road. After all, it is the job of the corporation to clean the streets. As against we have seen that the Japanese are assigned separate sections to watch world cup football matches. After the game, the Japanese clean their whole stand of kachra before departing.

Near my home, on the main street, an ice cream vendor occupies about 250 square foot of road and footpath area to run his ice cream parlour, chairs and all for customers. He is there between 6 pm to 11 pm, on a crowded road. He has six to eight ice cream parlours all over Pune. This location must have been his first “parlour” established on public property as he lives nearby (he must have put it up initially as a small-time businessman). Though his business has grown large, he continues with his birthright of using public property. The anti-encroachment team of the corporation are, of course, not “aware” of the misuse.

The Indian government has made it mandatory for people to build toilets inside homes as a prerequisite to stand for any election. People have taken it seriously and built the toilets. But some manly, macho people still use their fields for the morning ablutions. They feel that it is stupid to use a toilet for the purpose. Birthright?

I started thinking of many such birthrights that we assume are granted to us by the constitution.

  • Spit anywhere and everywhere
  • I have seen many people especially drivers of buses and taxis, who rinse their mouth with water from their water bottles and spit it out! Why can’t they drink the water instead of spitting on roads?
  • There are shopping areas in cities. Government and armed forces officers and their families go for purchases. The entire road is a no-parking zone for four-wheelers. But the owners of cars ask the drivers to park on the road and wait there. Why can’t they ask the drivers to park the vehicles in designated areas elsewhere and call the drivers when they are done?
  • When a small businessperson starts his/her business without following rules, it is not justified but understandable. But as they start occupying footpaths and roads in connivance with officials, it is not fair to others. The statement that they are poor people etc. does not justify misuse at all.
  • A small percentage of people break traffic rules, the world over. We as a society do this in bulk. If there is traffic signal failure in the main junction, we create gridlock of vehicles in such a way as if there is no tomorrow. I have seen in many countries where intersections are without traffic signals, but traffic moves smoothly. I had shared a story with you sometime back about a Chartered Accountant, originally from Delhi living in Sydney, Australia. When he was asked why he was so thrilled to go home to Delhi? He said, “I feel claustrophobic here. I am looking forward to going to  Delhi so that I can jump traffic signals, at least 30/40 times!” Amen, God Bless!
  • Our so-called educated brethren chewing beetle leaf (Paan) consider it their birthright to spit in any corner, on the staircases, on roads. They feel that if they spit in corners, it’s ok! It is the same as the dogs use the poles to do you know what!
  • Some birthrights are specially conferred city wise. Our Pune people have added non-compliance of helmet rules as their primary duty while on city roads. They will find various methods of breaking the law. They hang their helmets on bikes on the mirror handle. When they reach near an intersection, they stop and put on the helmet to avoid fine. Some organisations have made it mandatory to wear helmets while coming to office. Our friends follow the same method. Just before they reach the destination, they put on the helmet as the rules do not allow entry without a helmet.
  • There is an interesting story of a highly educated surgeon. He was travelling on his son’s scooter, and at an intersection, he stopped on a zebra crossing. A few days later his son told him while having morning tea, about how the police had fined the son. The son said, “Daddy, you seem to be the only one standing on a zebra crossing that day. Police cameras have sent a photo to me. I paid Rs.200/ fine today morning.” Our surgeon friend was livid. “How can the police make me pay the fine?” I am a renowned surgeon blah blah!” His son said, “Dad, come on, it is system driven. Cameras caught you, and since it was my bike I got the photo”! But our friend was justifying this to his group of friends and said that he would never go by that road etc. When his friends suggested not to stand on a zebra crossing in future, he gave a nasty look to his friend!

What is so unique that we behave this way? What could be the reasons? DNA? I don’t care attitude? Fundamental lack of sense of discipline? What is it? Lack of fear of the authorities?

We seem to be proud of our exotic chaos, we are proud of all the dirt spread around us. And that’s why foreigners flock to see us. They have never seen such confusion anywhere in the world, so they come here to shoot movies showing the worst of us and go on to bag Oscars for depicting Indian at its ‘best’.

And then, we blame our politicians for how corrupt they are. When we are so undisciplined, so selfish (ignoring public property to suit personal comfort, needs a term worse than selfish), then how can we expect them to be ideal? I think we deserve the corruption in bureaucracy and politics we are facing today. Our politicians are as selfish and undisciplined as we are. We then even blame our youth for brain-drain, I think there is nothing wrong in escaping this mass indiscipline if one has better options abroad.

Friends, any suggestions? Do you know specific reasons why we behave the way we do? Let us discuss it, no point in ignoring any further!

WA & FB revisited!

For records purpose, FB started in 2004 and WA began to operate five years later in 2009. First, long-distance voice communication began in 1876 in the form of the telephone; I will not go into a dispute about who was the real inventor of the phone. Cell phones started appearing in mass scale in ’90 s of the last century. FB & WA are the apps that are used on laptops but mainly on cell phones. The rapid proliferation of Cell phones and WA in India has taken the whole world by surprise. No doubt this was aided by the development of keyboard apps in all the Indian languages. You don’t need to know English to use these two apps.

I am writing about the apps with Indian reference. A significant change that has taken place is, the short-term and long-term migration of Indians all over the globe. From my 1971 batch from COEP, almost thirty plus people have migrated. This is about 8 %, and to me this is phenomenal. Currently, the migration percentage has increased briskly; short-term migration is seen more as people go to different countries on assignments.

As both these apps are in use for the last ten to fifteen years, the etiquettes, the pattern of usage are continually evolving. WA says that they have created the app so that people can be in touch using an instant messaging system. They have definitely achieved this and more. Who uses WA and why do they use it? WA is used as a personal messenger, used in groups, by a large number of Indians. These groups are friends’ groups, family groups, formal office groups, alumni groups and so on. In individual usage what people do is their lookout. But on groups rules and etiquettes are a must. In one of the groups, I am in, “forwards” are not allowed. Before WA, forward meant centre forward in Hockey or Football. In India, the forwarding of messages on the group reached a menacing proportion. It was clearly proven in one case that by forwarding messages quickly, some people got together swiftly and cornered a person and killed him because he looked suspicious. Later on, it was found that he was a development engineer working with Google at Bangalore. A few friends were roaming around on the weekend in a rural area near Bangalore. There have been many cases of hoax messages, some vicious rumours were spread using WA forwards.

Let me assure you, not all WA is terrible. Some fantastic things have come up with WA. WA has started a language of its own. It uses short forms and emojis. I am not much of an emoji user, I know about 😊- a wry smile, 🤣- LOL or laughing out loud with tears in eyes, 👍- thumbs up,🙏- in India this is interpreted as Namaste but, in a foreign culture, it is interpreted as High Five, ✈- travelling👏- clapping. I have said about different interpretation of emojis; different interpretation can happen in two different persons too!

I hear that WA is the secret tool for lovebirds, both official as well as unofficial (secret lovers?)! Following emojis must be the language of lovebirds, but my knowledge in this subject is inadequate. 💋👄- Indicating kisses?💘- Lovestruck? 💏-?😘- flying kiss 😍- excited with passion?😡- disturbed?👩‍❤‍👩-?💔- heart-broken💓- love! In today’s digital times, it is no surprise that the language has also become digitised. NTT Docomo of Japan was the first company to start emojis on cell phones. These were created because the Japanese have a fascination for pictures.

Surprising results of WA use are many, I will share a couple with you. We have an alumni group of 1971 COEP engineering students. Some of us lived in the hostels, and our hostel block was known as C Top! (C block top floor) During some trifle discussion on the group somebody wrote a statement, “Long Live C Top”! This one statement drew such a response to the group that a lot of messages started flowing. Many became nostalgic and discussion continued on and on! You will not believe it, but this discussion went on one and a half day! That period was drenched in nostalgia! So many things were remembered, so many stunts, card games were discussed. I copied those discussions and created a pdf document for sharing with all. The document had about 20 pages! It was declared literature masterpiece. I recently read that a couple, who got newly married, had saved all their WA exchanges. Imagine the total number of messages! They were forty-nine thousand! These were copied, and maybe they want to print it as a love story! Wow, that will be a fascinating real-life love story, warts and all!  People spend about 2 to 3 hrs using these apps every day; this was one of the reasons for this review.

I am sure that the emoji exchange between lovers must be fascinating. Especially when the emojis can be interpreted differently. A person may interpret differently when happy as against interpretation when angry. Again two lovers may have a different understanding of their sets of emojis!

Facebook is another fascinating story in the digital saga. Nowadays, people look eye to eye for the first time on Facebook! Their love story starts with a meeting on FB. It is no surprise that it continues with the same fervour in later life too! The buzz word used for such a show of affection between lovers or couples is PDA- public display of affection! The couples shout early morning on anniversaries and birthdays, to show how they love their partner! They want the whole world to know about it. Oldies like me and many others are surprised with this kind of public show. But for those who have started their love story on FB, they don’t care what you feel! FB has its advantages. FB has allowed me to find many long lost friends. FB has allowed me to be in touch with my school, through alumni group. It’s a diverse group with ex-students from early ’50 s of last century to the early part of the first decade of this century. Today morning, I had a pleasant surprise! Darshan Ruikar, my son’s friend sent me a friend request out of the blue! He lives in England for the last 25 years! FB helps me to publish my blogs to a broad audience.

Both the apps when used correctly are a great addition to our tools for communicating with others. Both the apps offer free audio or video calls and even group calls. But the downside is the use of WA by political parties in India. With elections fast approaching, the parties are trying to overcome the “at a time forward to five entities” lock applied by WA. WA has already warned the parties that if parties continue the misuse, they will lock such id’s. Governments world over are also having some discomfort due to abuse by people of the group facility.

Babya

My friend Baba Gupte on Video call on WA. Inset Jaya and me!

I will share with you the excellent usage of the apps. A coincidence is that both these incidents took place with someone in Australia. My friend Baba Gupte and I have been in touch about his holiday photos and my blogs, while he is in Australia. I thought why not call him; I video chatted with him, and we saw each other after a reasonably long time. Baba was very pleased and said, “ Pramod, perfect use of WA”!

Another incident was when I landed in Melbourne in 2015. We had gone to watch the cricket world cup final. After we landed at Melbourne airport, I read a news item on the net that Harsha Bhogale, the cricket commentator, enjoyed a Marathi play, “Katkon Trikon” in Sydney. I could not find the date reference. My old friend and actor Dr Mohan Agashe has played the lead role in the drama. So I quickly wrote to Mohan on FB messenger, “Hey Mohan are you in Australia or have you gone back? Jaya and I have just landed.” In a minute, I got a call on FB messenger. I was wondering who it could be. It was Mohan! We chatted and exchanged pleasantries, discussed cricket and the drama. He was to travel back to India that night.

How dramatically useful such apps are, pun not intended when appropriately used. I am sure as the apps, and people mature, the people will find more ways to use the apps to their advantage. We already have our weekly video calls with my son Sachin in Seattle and my Son in law Nikhil in Montreal! The apps keep people close, and for everybody, there is always something to look forward to! Maybe another long lost friend will get in touch with you; perhaps an old colleague will be found or even the old flame…. There are possibilities!

The Size of Canvas!

In 1960 there was a bet between two people for US $50/. His friend challenged Dr Seuss that he will give him fifty dollars if Seuss wrote a book using only 50 different words, an entertaining book for children. Dr Seuss took the bet and won. The result was the book called “Green Eggs and White Ham!” Since publication, the book has sold more than 200 million copies, one of the best-selling books ever. I read the book yesterday!

We can think that it was a one-time fluke, but if we look at what Dr Seuss has done, we will understand the meaning of “The Size of Canvas”! Dr Seuss had a restriction that he could use only 50 different words. There is no question that Seuss was talented. He took up the challenge and was at his creative best. The constraint brought the best out of him. Many a time it so happens that too much of everything does not work, it becomes a hindrance to achieving what you want to do.

Many times, constraints bring out the best out of humans. Constraints put the limitations on resources available; they put limits on time possible, they may set restrictions on your network available.

How to use your constraints to your advantage?

The classic case of constraints bringing out the best in people is that of the nation of Israel. We all know that it is a tiny country, surrounded by enemies. Two things could have happened. They would have been crushed and overrun by the enemy. The second thing is they could have become a belligerent state fighting all the time. They chose the third path. They somehow managed to survive, thanks to the USA. But at the same time within their limited resources, they developed skill sets which are on par or better than many nations. Their skills in developing radars, AWACS and rockets and many such things are unbelievable. They have done fantastic developments in agriculture to convert their arid deserts into a highly productive zones. They have a smallish population of 8.9 million people as per records in 2018. By making it compulsory for all to join military for at least two years, they have a large pool of highly trained people. They had no choice, and they had no option, they had so many constraints but they overcame the issues. But they managed to convert these constraints to their advantage and made Israel a developed nation within a matter of a couple of generations.

I must give an example from cricket, my favourite sport. The great Sachin Tendulkar was going through some issues in his batting in 2004. India was in Australia. He was getting out hitting a cut or a cover drive on the off side. Sachin practised and practised! Someone suggested to he needs one big score to get his game back. In the Sydney test match, he decided not to play a single shot on the off side. Once Australians understood his strategy, they packed the fielding on the leg side and bowling on the off side. Sachin had created a constraint for himself of not hitting anything on the off side. His great talent helped him achieve this. He scored 241 runs under this constraint. It is one of best test match innings he has played.

For the cricket enthusiasts here is the link for the inning.

All of us have options to live life the way we want to live. Sometimes we are forced to work under constraints, but I feel that it is a good idea to work under some constraints. Here is why and how of constraints.

Constraints inspire creativity

You may be a basketball player of average height. You will find different methods of scoring in spite of having all your opponents who are much taller than you. Barak Obama became the first black president of United States; he is a live example for a book similar to one by Dale Carnegie “Win friends, Influence people”!

canvas2

Oscar Pistorius’s had both his legs amputated when he was a baby. He became a para champion in running and won a medal in standard running races too, with artificial limbs. He won them instead of these constraints or was it because of the constraints? Limitations drive you to figure out solutions. Your constraints inspire your creativity.

Constraints force you to get something done

I have been blogging for a few years, but since last year, I have become a serious blogger. I have forced myself that I will produce a certain number of blogs every month. It takes 3 to 4 hours of writing and research, an hour of fine-tuning before my blog is published. I have written a blog on flights while travelling from the US back to India. I have written blogs when I was on holiday in Manali. I could have easily skipped the writing during these times, but my constraints have forced me to remain productive. There is no compulsion, but it has become a passion.

Then there is a passion for maintaining certain quality standards I have forced on myself. Without my schedule (the constraint), I would have pushed those blogs to a different day. Or I would never got around to them at all. Constraints force you to get something done and don’t allow you to procrastinate. I believe that professionals set a schedule for their creation while amateurs wait until they feel motivated.

Remember that constraints are not your enemies.

But constraints are not the enemy. Every artist has a limited set of tools to work. Every athlete has a limited set of skills to train. Every entrepreneur has a limited amount of resources to build. Once you know your constraints, you can start figuring out how to work with them.

Here again, I will share the story of Manasi Sagar, a young painter from Nashik. She had decided that she wanted to become a painter and that too an artist painting nude portraits. A middle-class girl from an average family like you and me finally put a constraint that she wants to become an artist of nude portraits. It’s tough, very tough. She has no contacts in the elite art world and is struggling. She has decided not to marry so that she can live the life that she wants.

Read my blog about her journey.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/what-is-porn/

I am a trained engineer with ages of experience but now want to become a serious blogger. I don’t know at what stage I am, but I have put myself the constraint of remaining prolific round the year. I have also decided to try and maintain quality come what may. I don’t know if I am on the right path. But let me assure you constraints do help in a big way. Given below are the statistics from WordPress of what I have done in last year. It positively encourages me to work harder and better.

What constraints are you setting for yourself? What type of schedule do you have for your goals?

I have decided the size of my canvas!

wordpressstats31122018

 

Conditions Apply, really!

Conditions apply is a term used while advertising things. Hence some advertisers specifically write, “No conditions apply.” Conditions Apply is a commercial way of saying, “Take it with a pinch of salt”. When I was in school there used to be an advertisement of a radio set. It would say, “Listen to any station in the world”! The cost of the set would be less Rs.100/. I asked someone how is it possible? Not that I was an expert in this but I felt that there was something wrong. That person showed the small print in the advertisement. It said, “When you are at that place”! Small print! Now you know what I mean. That was a radio set which could capture Medium Wave stations when you were at that place.

Does this happen in commercial space only or it happens in our lives too? Yes and no both are the real answers, because life is never defined in Black & White or in 1 & 0. There is always grey shade in all facets of life. The love we get from parents, the love we get from kids, the pets, these are all with “No conditions apply.” This happens in the case of close childhood friends too. But ultimately everything in this world follows a Marathi idiom दिसत तसं नसतं म्हणून सारं जग फसत  which means that the world is not as we see it or as it appears to us! Or “The grass is always greener on the other side!”

Jackfruit, Coconut are typical real-life examples; they are both rough & tough from outside, but when we get through the top layer, inside is sweet, tasty and coconut water is pleasing. Customer is the king is supposedly today’s motto. Today I read an article by an expat professional white Caucasian American lady. She has been living in Pune for last couple of years. She has openly talked about discrimination that happens world over including the US! On the surface we don’t see it. She said that you may think that there is no discrimination in the US but the skin color does play a big part.

She shared a story about an incident in Pune. She and kids were in a departmental store. There was another couple where the lady was Caucasian but her kids had dark skin (mixed marriage). While a service assistant was stocking some bottles in a shelf, she dropped a bottle. She went and told her manager that the dark-skinned kids broke it. He came and told their mother that he would charge her. She was surprised! Our expat friend had seen the incident; she knew the manager and he was the nice guy. But that day she saw the real side of the person. She insisted to show the video, and the truth came out! The service assistant was the culprit. The manager did not even apologize! Real world!

When we go to foreign countries, we see huge Indian diaspora first, second and maybe even third generation variety. They apparently merge quite well with the local society in behavior, dress sense, and discipline. But when some of them come back to Bharat Desh, they are back to their “normal” selves. One of my classmates who lives in Sydney, Australia, has a young desi neighbor, CA by training. The young man once told my friend that he was going on a holiday and looked ecstatic. My friend asked him if there was any specific occasion! The young man said, “ I am looking forward to the moment I land in Delhi, I am going to drive the car. I want to break traffic signals at least 30-40 times! I am feeling claustrophobic in Sydney!” Will his Australian colleagues be able to recognize him when he is in India?

What could be the reason for such two faceted behavior? Is it how we grow up in our young phase? Does the changed environment not have any effect good or bad? Do humans normally behave this way? Is the growth phase so important in life? It is said that human brain grows 90% in first 5 years! Maybe the behavior pattern gets etched in the DNA by that time.

There was an interesting study shared in Readers Digest. They selected about ten cities each in various countries in the world in all the continents. These were from tiny villages to towns, to cities to metropolises. They kept wallets in public places as if somebody had dropped them. Wallets had personal identifications, family photos and tidbits to make them look genuine. Wallets also had money equivalent to US $ 100/ in each wallet, in local currency. There was interesting findings. All the events were captured on video cameras kept at strategic locations for study purpose. 90 to 95 % wallets were returned to authorities in villages. This % started reducing as the population of the place started increasing and was the worst in metropolises, 40/45 %. They concluded that the integrity reduced maybe due to anonymity that humans get in metropolises. This pattern was the same in all continents, across the races! I am quite sure all the persons who kept wallets with themselves, were reasonably normal persons but the circumstances changed them.

We have read from olden times about gurus, mullas and priests taking advantage of the faith people keep in them. We read horror stories about such people who sexually exploit women followers. God’s people and exploitation? Things are not as they look. I have known of people who will always have tika on their forehead, perform Pooja daily for couple of hours but are absolutely corrupt in professional lives. How can we explain their behavior? Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde? We know of doctors who perform illegal tests like sex determination of foetus and on the side are known to be great social workers! A “well-known” industrialist manufactured Gutka in huge quantities in a very modern factory. He never displayed easily visible board of his unit. Minted money, though he obviously knew that Gutka causes cancer. He used to donate huge money for medical cause, opened cancer treatment hospital. Some people sarcastically would call it his “customer complaint center” to handle side effects of his premium product, Gutka!

A well established builder has a similar story. His was a typical rag to riches story and was included in curriculum in commerce college courses. This story was written by a famous management guru. A couple of years back news started trickling in about his cheating in business. He and his family were arrested last year and are in jail. He has ditched thousands of retirees by taking money from them, in the form of fixed deposit and not returning it. He cannot, as his companies which took the money are bankrupt. The family has hidden treasure which police are trying to locate. Of the course one of his sons lives a condo where he pays Rs.4/ lacs per month rent! Doyen of industry!

Are we all this way? Are we waiting for an opportunity to cheat arise? Do we all make a show of how good you are, what a philanthropist you are? I was thinking to myself. Have I ever cheated in the ways explained above, knowingly or purposely? At least I don’t remember doing it. I asked another friend of mine the same question and he also said the same thing. But we have a common friend who was in government service. He must have retired 10 to 12 years back. I know what the salaries were and what the pension is. But he spends money all the time as if the world is going to end tomorrow. We knew that he was one of most corrupt officials. But to others who don’t know him well, he is a god-fearing human being, very pious in life.

I always wonder about such people. There are only two ledgers in this world that every individual has to match. One is your own ledger which you have to match every night, before sleeping and the other is when you meet Him! There is a solution. If you find that your ledger on the earth does not match every night (obviously you can’t sleep well!) Amend your ways while you have the opportunity.  But once you take the final journey and meet Him, how can you mend your ways? You have a non- return valve on your way back! Choice is yours!