Work is Worship!

Everything else is after WORK is completed!

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                                          श्रावण मासी हर्ष मानसी हिरवळ दाटे चोहिकडे, 
                                          क्षणात येते सर सर शिरवे क्षणात फिरुनि ऊन पडे 

These are the first two lines of the famous poem श्रावण मासी हर्ष मानसी by celebrated Marathi poet बालकवी ठोंबरे, Balkavi Thombare! The poem is the celebration of the month Shravan from the Hindu Calendar. Every child who had taken education in Marathi in our times knows at  a least a few lines, even today. It has become part of Marathi folklore.

We were going out somewhere, while entering the car a drizzle started. Today we went out a couple of times and both times it was same. In one moment there was rain, the next moment a heavy shower followed by a peek a boo by the Sun! I said to Jaya, “This is typical weather for the Hindu calendar month of Shravan.” I hummed the above lines; but then I remembered that currently the Hindu month going on is Ashadh! This is due to Adhik Mass in Hindu calendar. This calendar is based on Lunar month which is 29 ½ days of our normal calendar. To compensate for this loss of days, every two and half years we have Adhik Mass.

I am good with this but there is a major issue. All Hindu festivals and everything related to the God is celebrated as per Hindu calendar. The palkhi, (https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/palkhi-the-great-tradition/ ) the Palaquin procession terminates on Ashadhi Ekadashi i.e. 11th day of the month of Ashadh. This is where the issue starts. Large number of farmers take part in the procession and the total time taken by Palkhi to reach Pandharpur is 21 days. It is expected that they complete their work in the farms and take some time off for Palkhi. For a couple of years Palkhi starts in 3rd week of June and if there is Adhik Mass then it starts later in July as per Gregorian Calendar. Our seasons are discussed based on Gregorian calendar. So, rain gods follow the Gregorian calendar. Now, how can farmers be away from work, in major part of July, when they need to be on the farms?

Palkhi, bhakti, pooja all these things are fine but if the appropriate things are not done at the right time on the farms, the produce can get damaged, quality can go down! In fact, all the crop could go bust! How to do the right things? Has this ever been discussed in farming community? The farming depends on vagaries of weather, market conditions, disease and many such variables! So, if they remain away from the farms at the wrong time, then I shudder to even think what can happen. 21 days is not a small time to be away.

This brings us to other subject on the topic of farming. The subject that is being discussed much is the excess production in certain areas of farming. In many areas production is quite high and ever-increasing population also is not able to consume it. Let us look at Sugar. Since sugarcane is a cash crop, everybody wants to grow sugarcane. Our annual requirement of sugar is 25 million tons and we have produced 30 million tons. What to do with this sugar? International market is also weak hence the price that one gets is also not remunerative. Strikes? Government support? Government cannot support everything.

Same thing is happening in animal husbandry. Once people realized that milk production is a good business, a large number of people went into that business. They got themselves imported Jersey animals which produce a lot of milk compared to local animals. They took loans and when the going was good everything was fine. Large number of cooperative organizations have come up which collect the milk, process it and bring it to market. Excess milk is converted into milk powder. Milk collection has become quite organized but India has fully market driven system. Government may give some support but ultimately it is buyer and seller system. Excess production and supply will put the rates under pressure and which currently has happened. Solution? People are being misguided by the so-called leaders. They have asked the people to throw away the  milk every day and not give it to collection centers. With this, endless loop is formed where farmers lose more money.

Is it the way to do it? In many European countries milk business is under stress, most of the time. A few farmers do commit suicides but there is no suicide epidemic. They protest in a different way. They take their cows in large numbers to the departmental stores as a protest. They create traffic jams by bringing the tractors in the cities with the purpose of creating jam. In a factory in Japan there was some labour dispute going on for a long time. With no solution in site, the workers resorted to a novel method of protest. They kept on manufacturing shoes only for the left foot. After one week of this protest, a solution was reached. There was only temporary loss in sell but production did not suffer.

In the initial phase of independent India, there was shortage of everything. Food, Milk, Grams, Grain, you name it, we had shortage. We were forced to accept low quality grains, generally fed to animals in the US, as we had no choice. In last 40 years we have made a lot of progress. Go to any market, go to any shop. We see abundance of everything. The way we survived shortages, we have to learn the art and science of handling excesses also. It is the right balance of keeping manufacturing expenses under control, at the same time we should manage to keep final selling price under control, to keep inflation under control.

This needs a lot working together and the system must try and become independent of government support. After all government is you and me. If one hand is paid in excess then the other hand will also need money to buy costly stuff. It is all fine to say that it is middlemen or agents who are the culprits. But the major markets for everything are towns and cities. Reaching produce to the right market at the right time, needs planning, logistics, storage which many a time has to be cold storage. Even with great storage and logistics, Europe is supposedly sitting on big mountain of butter. Similarly, India is sitting on a mountain of milk powder.

It is easier said than done. Farmers have no time and money to do the marketing of their crop. This also needs money.  As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we don’t see problems in farmers from Konkan and Western Maharashtra. The milk problem appears to be problem of more developed society same as in Europe. But in eastern and north eastern areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada these problems and suicides are in large numbers. Experts need to study the reasons for this and find out the real problem behind this. It could be something social, it could be something to do with aspirations. It may be related to way the people think.

In the society, these upheavals keep on happening but the so called advanced communities keep on advancing socially in each generation. They don’t depend on government support and dole all the time. Till the time, societies don’t follow the basic ethics of “Work is Worship”, there will be problems galore. We see that in the  large cities like Mumbai and Pune, any person who wants to work has work. The fighters among them move up fast in the society, not those who want support, all the time, generation after  generation! Don’t make looking for support from someone your habit. Find your own solution, your own path. Take part in Palkhi if it is in June as hundreds of years seems to have proven that during this period basic work for the farms is done and end June and beginning July is a lull time! By all means, during your farming schedules, follow Hindu rituals but not Hindu calendar!

Righteous Violence!

If someone slaps you on a cheek, don’t show him the other one! Hit him back! We don’t need Gandhis!

अहिंसा परमो धर्मा is a Sanskrit phrase popularized by Mahatma Gandhi and is repeated many times across the world to emphasize non-violent ways of Indians. It means “Non-Violence is the ultimate Dharma”! In Sanatan Dharma this line is applicable to the renunciates and ascetics! Even if one is attacked he should not defend himself even if there is danger to life because in Sanatan Dharma you identify with Atman and not the body. 

I feel that in real life the second line of this phrase is purposely hidden by so called peace loving people. The full phrase is 

अहिंसा परमो धर्मा 

धर्म हिंसा तथैव च  

Non – Violence is the greatest Dharma, So too is all righteous violence 

When these two lines are taken together, what we can understand is that non-violence is relative! It is the moral responsibility of the person to use violence if it is used to stop greater violence or evil.  

The first line of the phrase was made popular by Gandhi. But Nathuram Godse apparently believed more in second line; he felt that Gandhi had done great harm to India and he took a violent decision to kill Gandhi! It is well proven, post-independence, that violent means are part of ruling a country. In olden days also, the kings resorted to violence and if required they killed people. Same is happening in today’s times. The Naxalite movement is causing a big headache to the Indian state. Initially, appeasement was tried but a stage was reached when this movement started becoming stronger and more violent. Government had no option but to take aggressive stance. This resulted in guerilla warfare where government forces are systematically destroying the violent groups but at the same time they are allowing some of them to surrender and change their ways. Only the strong state can talk of peace, because the other side is aware that otherwise they will get brutally crushed. Kashmir issue is for a completely separate discussion.

A society has an Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.), Spiritual Quotient (S.Q.) and a Knowledge Quotient (K.Q.). But it also has Fear Quotient which, which is based on Valour Quotient. But post-independence, due to over dependence on non-violence, India as a  country had become famous for peace and non-violent ways, especially in international dealings. This led to our society having abnormally high Fear Quotient and abnormally reducing our Valour Quotient. 

The result of such thought process was what happened in China war. At the time of China war, our defense minister Krishna Menon was telling everybody that our ordinance factories were busy manufacturing Lanterns! Such weak Leadership of Menon under guidance of Nehru resulted in India having a bloody nose in International diplomacy. China for some reason wanted to teach India a lesson, under very smart slogan Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai (Chinese and Indians are brothers!) Luckily for India, China stopped the war unilaterally otherwise we could have lost many North Eastern States! Nehru wanted to gain personal popularity on the world stage and was gunning, pun not intended, for Nobel Prize of peace! What did he gain? A bloody nose, shame and ultimately died a sad man!  

Subsequent Governments took time to come out of this “Peace Movement”! Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, realized the meaning of being strong and aggressive. Soldiers of the Indian army had fought under the British rule in second world war and had battalions of Sikh, Gurkhas, Rajputs, Marathas and Mahars with great tradition of Valour! What they needed was the support from the government by way of policy.  

Indira Gandhi took the decision following the second line of the phrase, धर्म हिंसा तथैव च! Result was 1971 war against Pakistan! In ten years, India had changed from 1962 debacle to 1971 Victory, which resulted in defeating aggressive Pakistan. At the beginning of this war, Pakistanis were so confident about winning, that they had made statements like, “One Pakistani soldier is good enough to Kill 10 Indian soldiers!” They made such statements because of our post-independence history and conciliatory stand on the global platform. India was always talking of peace, and non-aggression pacts. We never bothered about having weapons, ammunition. Indian polity was changing internally and end result was creation of Atomic Bomb, against all odds. 

Indian thought process had changed so much during 1971 war that India were threatened by USA during this war. They said that they were sending their seventh fleet in Bay of Bengal to help Pakistan! India kept on negotiating with US and on the side, before the fleet could arrive, they made Pakistan surrender! Currently when US is again threatening India about non-supply of missiles, India has joined hands with Russia for these missiles. 

In Bhagwad Geeta, Lord Krishna tells the same thing to the great Warrior Arjuna! On the battle field, Kauravas had opted for Yadav army and Pandavas had opted for advice of Lord Krishna. Ajuna tells Krishna that he can not fight a war with his cousins Kauravas, his Guru Dronacharya  and his Grandfather Bhishma! He almost puts his weapons down and says, “I cannot fight this war which can lead to total destruction of the people I love and respect.” Lord Krishna tells him, “O son of Kunti (Arjuna), either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up and fight with determination.” 

Friends, the history of mankind has been brutal. But the wise and smart know one thing that this brutality should not be used for the sake of brutality! But if required, this should be used forcefully and effectively for just cause!  

Whatever people may say about Gandhi’s “Quit India” movements contribution to push British out of India. People claim that this made British go away! I don’t believe it for one minute! It is the Tilak’s, Savarkars, Netaji Boses, Bhagat Singhs and Rajguru’s of this world who pushed British to the brink! Ultimately, the proverbial last straw was the Mutiny of the Naval sailors in 1946, that led to their final decision to quit!  

 

 

Life’s Priorities!

Decide life’s priorities and try to give closure to events!

I heard recently about  death of someone at the age of around 70. He was a professional working in a consulting company. He had an accident within office premises and died a few days later. Both his children were in the US at that time, one of them rushed back home. The other did not come. We went and met the family and while sharing their grief with us, the mother told us that it was a family decision that the other child will not come. The reason, he had visa issue in the US and hence could not travel outside US with a fear that he may not be able to go back to the US!

What is the meaning of life? When we are born we are not invited to be born but are a result of relationship between two persons, who follow the natural process of procreation. So, when we are born we have no control on our sex, family, place of birth and time of birth. Even the couple does not have control on the sex of the child born! Some of them follow method of “trying’ to have male child by illegal routes (at least in India) of sex determination and abortions. So, it is possible that the embryo formed may never be born if the parents don’t want it to be born. Maybe hundreds or thousands of Rani Laxmibai’s, Indira Gandhi’s, Kalpana Chwla’s or Indra Nuyi’s of this world have been lost to the mankind even before they were born, as someone did not want a girl child!

What makes a family? A family is unit of people where we have parents, children, maybe grandparents. The families are made up of circles which sometime cross each other. To me the inner most circle is husband, wife and children. The grandparents come in the next circle and uncles, aunts and cousins come in the circle after that. Friends come somewhere in between. The death I mentioned above happened in the first circle. Nothing in this world is so important that when death happens within this first circle, including visa issues,  person can not be with the family. To me it is okay, if you miss a joyous occasions but one should never miss the sad events for any reason, especially deaths in the first circle. What could be sadder than the death of your own father? What family decision are we talking about? The worst-case scenario would have been that the prodigal son would have been required to move back to India for good. India is not a jungle. There are opportunities galore in India. Even the senior level ex expatriates are now taking up jobs in India.

Will this prodigal son ever be happy to continue living in USA or where ever he lives in future? When you do not attend the funeral of your own father, will you be able to ever overcome what you did? When you don’t give closure to such events they keep on haunting you! To my knowledge the relationship between father and the son was normal. Who helped him to take this decision? His sister was much younger so it was his mother who pushed him to take this decision. Is it pragmatism? Were there no emotions involved? Did the son never feel that he should have a last look at his father? Is he a weakling or an emotionless person? Is so called better life so important?

Humans use many things in their lives like clothes, cars, laptops and cell phones. In the event of losing any of these items, we humans are quite uneasy for some time. It is not about the money aspect. Humans tend to get attached to the things they own. Homes and land are things about which humans are exceptionally emotional. I know of a family who live in another town away from Pune. They had a home in Pune. They found it very difficult to manage it. Someone suggested that they dispose it off. The owner of the house said, “Over my dead body”! This reaction is the other extreme of the reaction, compared to one by our prodigal son. He thought that he need not even have a last look at the dead body. Maybe for humans land and homes are above your dead father, in the pecking order!

When we use clothes during the day, they get soiled. Next day we change them, wash and iron them for reuse. The clothes are as good as new again. This does not happen in case of us humans. We spend the day in the same clothing, humans also get soiled and next day after bath they are new again. Are they? No, they are not. Humans have mind. The soiled body may become as good as new again. But there is no simple solution to cleanse mind. The “soiling” of mind does not get “cleaned” as easily like clothes and our body! Sometimes there are deep injuries to the mind, sometimes some part is torn. The event of death mentioned above, and of not being able to attend the funeral of one’s own father, can damage and spoil mind’s fabric to a large extent! Maybe damage will be somewhat irreversible! There is a saying, “time is the great healer of everything” but I am not sure how this absence during father’s death will affect human mind. Will time heal the damage 100 percent?

Friends be careful when you do anything in life. Sometimes you may unknowingly damage someone’s mind by your action or your inaction. This can happen in lovers, this can happen in close friends, this can happen in family! Before concluding anything, think twice if you feel that the interaction can cause irreversible damage. We humans are very sensitive people and we need to decide life’s priorities. Being pragmatic is not good in all situations. The damage that occurs to one’s mind or soul is invisible many  times. Materialistic things are not ultimate things in life. Most important for any humans  in life, is to have empathy. Person with empathy will think twice, if required thrice to ensure that the other person’s mind is never disturbed, damaged or torn. Mind you,  this is equally true in our own life too!

Was it worth it?

Play a positive zero sum game of life!

Last week we went to Seattle to attend our grandson’s 12th grade graduation ceremony. We really enjoyed the ceremony. We were also very happy to be present for the milestone event of Suyash’s life. Now he joins the university to start computer engineering course! It was a bit hectic but enjoyable. After traveling a lot around the world, our mind gets used to long flights and handling such long journeys, in a short period of time..

Yesterday we bumped into our neighbour, who is 7 to 8 years senior to me. He asked me about the ceremony and then he said that he had a query. He asked me that if it was really worth traveling all the way to US and come back, for a four day stay? Is it not physically tiring? Does it not cause jet lag issues? Was there any necessity to do it? I told him that there was a family reason to come back in four days! Now the decision! Yes, we thought it was more than worth it to attend our grandson’s milestone event!

While planning, we never discussed if it was possible to take up this journey, it was assumed that we will be able to handle it! I am pragmatic in what I do and respect our age which is nearing 70! Fortunately, both of us are reasonably fit! But we did take precautions to make our journey less arduous! We took a flight from Pune to Delhi and slept for a few hours at the airport transit hotel. Then we took our 14-hour flight to Vancouver! Similarly, after 14-hr flight back from Toronto to Delhi, we stayed overnight at the transit hotel; we slept for straight six hours and took a flight back to Pune at 8.30 next morning!

First and foremost is that we were not trying set a record, making the short trip with longest journey! The situation at that time demanded we do it. Secondly, it was possible both physically and financially to handle this. There was no specific requirement to reach Pune by taking a late-night flight! With all conditions being suitable, we decided to go ahead with our plan.

Our lives are divided in four stages of childhood, education and entry into married life, matured life after 40’s when things are both hectic and are stabilizing. Lastly, it’s the golden period in our life when most of our responsibilities are over and financial requirements are much less for our day to day things. In first two phases we really don’t have much freedom and means to take our own decisions. In most cases decisions are taken by someone else. In last two phases, we can take our own decisions.

Question remains whether it was really worth it? This calls for understanding of what life is. Life to me is sum total of small events, in life. The events can be routine, some could be milestone events. Some are happy events, some are sad events. For happy events we come together to spread the joy; in sad events we come together to be with each other, to support each other. By sharing the joyful events we multiply the joy and by sharing the sad events, we divide the sorrow! This to me is the basic principle of life!

Life is never a big event full of joy! It is small events that make it joyful! Eating food every day in a five-star hotel is not fun. But if you go to such places once in a while it’s fun! We don’t go there only for food. It is the ambience, the atmosphere that adds to the joy. No food can beat your home food if we consider only the food aspect. But it is the planning, getting ready, getting decked up and meeting a few friends in that atmosphere, which creates joy.

But events like taking your child or grand-child to play in a garden, eating bhajias while it is drizzling in monsoon, meeting a long-lost friend suddenly after a long time are the events that add to our joys! Similarly, events like illnesses in the family, failure of someone in family/friends to achieve a goal, (there is always a second time) your favourite team losing in a sporting event are the small sad events that add up to our sorrows. It is sum total of joys and sorrows that makes our life!

With families spreading world over, due to migration, it is becoming tougher to be present in both joys and sorrows! Sometimes, it is not possible because of financial constraints, sometimes it is not possible due to health reasons, for family to be together for even larger events of both joy and sorrow! I know a family where the son could not travel back to India due to his visa issues, when his not very old father died. That of course, is another subject for discussion. Nowadays, waiting for performing final rites of dear ones, has become quite common, as the children travel back from different parts of the world. This is a practical difficulty as timing for death cannot be predicted. But when date of an event is known, e.g marriage, engagement and so on, travel can be easily planned in advance, provided you want to attend those events. Lest we forget, events don’t wait for anybody.

Jaya was present in the US during our grandson’s birth, we could attend his 12th grade graduation ceremony. But we could not be present be for any of his birthdays. In fact, after our son moved to the US we have never attended our son’s birthday too! This time we were lucky that both the events were on the same day! With these limitations, the question of whether it was worth it becomes irrelevant! If someone is not going to attend such events, when all conditions are go and age is nearing 70, then which is the correct time to attend such events? Is it a must that “after spending so much money” (my neighbour said, I did not!) should I not have stayed in Seattle for a longer duration? What is the right longer duration?

Friends, keep on playing positive sum game of life, whether you need to travel to Seattle, or to Timbaktu! Just do it!

Titbits from an inter-continental dash!

Small but interesting experience during travel!

Travel does many things but the experience you get, the knowledge it gives you can never be gotten in any school or on internet in such a short duration and on different subjects! We made a quick dash to the US to attend our grandson Suaysh’s graduation ceremony which took place on 18th June. We reached on Saturday, 16th June, and traveled back on 20th June. You will ask me where did I acquire so many new things? Well it was during journey and waiting at airports and of course chatting with my grandson.  

My son lives in a Seattle suburb called Sammamish, which has population of 75 K. It’s a well to do suburb. There were 600 students from my grand sons class of 2018. I went through the list, there were about 15% Indians, 20/22% Chinese. Rest was others! Out of 600, about 100 did IB Diploma. International Baccalaureate® (IB) programmes aim to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. https://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/ . Out of 100 students, 80 were Indian or Chinese!  

On the flight back home, from Seattle to Toronto, an Irish American was sitting next to me. He was accompanying his son, who had also completed his 12th grade graduation. The gentleman was civil engineer by profession. When subject of education came up for discussion, he said their family came to US about 125 years back and he was the first from their family to go to a college. He rued, that his family and clan never realized the importance of education before his generation. He was shocked to know the statistics mentioned above.  

Another important point came out in discussion. Gun laws in USA. He agreed that the laws were bad, so I asked him a hypothetical question. In the mid-size city like Seattle, in an area 25 km around, how many people will really need a gun? He said that in some remote area a few wild animals do come but if you let them be, you don’t need guns; otherwise almost nobody would need a gun. I then asked him, how many guns would be there in Seattle area? He said there could be hundreds of guns! That is the gun story in USA.  

Then I found some interesting things at airports. Removing shoes, Laptops etc at security varies from country to country, as per equipment available. We landed in Vancouver, Canada and US immigration and customs formalities were completed there itself. After the formalities were done, nobody took the customs form that we had filled up. On Seattle Toronto flight, similar customs form was filled up but passport details were not required. Nobody collected this form too! When we transited after reaching Canada, there was no security check, though we had crossed the international border! There was a very long moving walkway, maybe about 300 meters long. It was the worst one I have seen on any airport. It was continuously making noise, dhad, dhad and I got a feeling that one of the links of the conveyor would break, anytime. Also, the walkway was not moving in flat plane; it was jumping a few millimeters at every dhad. It was very uncomfortable to use.  

SeattleToronto2

The images above show the funny side of lack of quality control at some stage. We were flying Seattle to Toronto but two images were showing reverse information. Instead of showing distance to Toronto, it was showing distance to Seattle! This hardly made any difference but it was surprising to such basic errors.  

Back home in Delhi there was a pleasant surprise! We stayed at night at the Holiday Inn Express transit hotel at the airport. That day was Jaya’s birthday and I had ordered a cake when I had booked the room  a month back. When we reached, the cake was ready and they offered it on the house!

On Delhi Pune flight I had a Britisher sitting next to me. He was in education business. They send students from UK for internship to India, during summer. He said every year one or two students go back home half way, as they cannot handle India! Especially from Chennai area. He was not sure about the reason and why from this area! I got many insights about Brexit, border less travel and business issues!

After a long time we ran into baggage missing episode. I am trying various things, let’s see when we get the bags at home!

But all in all one could see that US and Canada are really up there as far developments are concerned!  But to top everything else was the reaction of our gran daughter Rhea, when we met back home! The way she squeaked, jumped, danced was a site to behold! Why do we mature? Why don’t we show reactions like the small kids do? We are losing real fun and joys of life by becoming mature!

 

 

 

Good Old Days!

Whose Good Old Days are better?

This is one term that is frequently used in many conversations. Some use it nostalgically, some use it with heavy heart, some use it as a passing reference. It is the emotion behind it, that is important. All of us have a past as we grow old. Some have 20 years of past, some have 40 years of past and some 60 years of past! Being nostalgic about your “Good Old days” is natural! It is fun, it’s  joy, its pure nostalgia! These are your precious memories which can never be taken away! They open the door to your personal life history, they open the door to the history of the society and the nation, and to the World at that particular time. When we think about “Good Old Days”, we open a small window but how far we are able to see and enjoy, depends totally on our way of looking at things.

Those who enjoy “Good Old days” nostalgically are emotional persons, those who remember “Good Old days” with a heavy heart probably remain grooved in those times. Those who make passing reference of “Good Old days” are not very emotional about life memories. This is of course an observation and I am not commenting what is right and what is the correct way of looking at things. Nor am I passing any judgment! But what really are the “Good Old days”?  

To me “Good Old days” are bygone days. To me today’s times are my “Golden Days”! But the beauty is “Youthful days” of today become “Good Old days” may be 40 or 50 years hence. So, each of “Good Old days” from different decades have their own charm, their own scent, their own beauty! My “Good Old days” are no better or worse than someones “Good Old days”!  

Humans have different ways of looking at life, enjoying life at different age! Each decade probably changes human perception about life, their way of looking at life! In the childhood, life is simply fun and fantasy; it is a time when one leads a very protected life. The entry into adulthood brings out different emotions, exposure to different pleasures and professional studies and sometimes real bad world. Fun is a major part of this growth. Many times, it is more fun than serious things. Generally, “Good Old days” are this phase of life for everybody because they are lively, fun filled and adventurous.  

The current decade, which is Golden Period for me, is going to be “Good Old days” for my grandson Suyash in future. He is in the phase of becoming an adult. He studies hard, he enjoys hard. I am sure he has fun and he has growth pangs. For him travel from US, where he lives, to India, is an adventure. He is now old enough to understand that world is not the same in various different parts. His place of stay at Sammamish near Seattle in the US, is a serene location with lots of trees, lots of water bodies and lots of clouds and a lot of rain. So, when he travels to India, it is lots of noise, lots of people but a lot of family members.  

With modern technology proliferation, the growth of technology in both India and the US is similar and there is not a big chasm between the two places. But chasm in two eras, my “Good Old days” and my golden days is simply breath taking. In my “Good Old days”, Mumbai, where I grew, was a reasonably peaceful big city with a lot of activities. But when I moved to Pune, where I have been living for 50 years, things were drastically different. People would move about on bicycles, using horse driven carriages; whereas in Mumbai there was a fairly modern train system and a bus system. In my “Good Old days”, there were a few major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata; other places were towns or villages. Intercity travel was rarity and air travel was non existent. Those were the days of shortages and rationing of food! Eating an apple was considered luxury, the same as owning the car. But I enjoy the memories and nostalgia of “Good Old days”.  

Today Suyash is growing up in the times of plenty of everything. Plenty of money, plenty of gadgets, plenty of cars and plenty of everything in general. With this base, he is growing up with big dreams, and looking forward to even better future. In my “Good Old days”, we also had plenty of dreams and plenty of fun same as Suyash has. But probably, on the scale of 10, my dream size was 3 and Suyash’s dream size could be 7 or 8. So when Suyash becomes nostalgic 40 years hence and yearns for his “Good Old days”, can our “Good Old days” be compared? Answer is both yes and no. No, because the base level at both times are totally different, they simply cannot be compared. Yes, because the nostalgia does not depend on tangibles. So, the base simply does not matter.  

The emotional person can enjoy best of the both worlds and enjoys memories of “Good Old days”; the same person also enjoys today’s good modern, but a bit of hectic times. The person who keeps stuck in “Good Old days”, enjoys in remaining entrapped in those times but is not able to enjoy today’s times. For The less emotional person, nothing really matters.  

When I retrospect about “Good Old days”, I realize that general health and happiness in those times were not so good. Society in general did not have zest or drive as most people used to struggle to survive. My youthful age masked all such struggles, which anyway I did not understand at that time. I am quite sure the “Good Old days” are always the same in every era when intangibles are compared. But when tangibles come in picture, it will be difficult to judge which era would give more joy. I feel that my golden days are better days than “Good Old days”. To me probably, this aspect will keep on improving with time, all the time. In my “Good Old days” we used to have Kaware Ice Cream. Oh, but Baskin Robbins and CCD and Barista today…. You know what I mean! Of course I am nostalgic about Kaware Ice Cream but…… 

I don’t care!

Inculcate discipline from childhood by your own example!

A news item in Pune’s newspaper said that a 14-year-old kid was stopped by the police as he was driving a two-wheeler on public roads. Obviously, he had no license and on top of it, when the police asked for the vehicle documents, he and his family did not have them. The number plate on the scooter was bogus. Questions arose if the vehicle was stolen? How did the family allow the kid to take the scooter on public roads? When asked, they did not have answers; the police arrested two people, the father and the uncle of the kid. The uncle supposedly owned the scooter. Was this family in some kind of funny business about stealing of vehicles?  

The sheer arrogance, impunity with which people allow kids to use motorized vehicles cannot be believed. ” My kid drives beautifully though he is only 13″, kind of stuff! This reflects poorly on the society and irrespective of income levels, family backgrounds, such incidents keep on happening. The result of such actions is that kids at an early age learn to do illegal things. They have no fear of law as they are falsely protected by the parents. Similar “training” is given to kids when their mothers take them on scooters and jump the red signal. At the young age, for kids, mother is everything. If she jumps red signal then it is their green signal! Another thing, is that it leads to is accidents. There is always a reason when society makes rules. Age allowed to drive motorized vehicles, age for getting married, age for consuming alcoholic drinks, these are all decided after observing human behavior vis a vis their age, over a period of time. Maturity required for performing these activities is lacking at younger age. This lack of maturity gives false sense of confidence to kids! In India, certain low powered scooters are allowed to be driven legally, when the child becomes 16! At the same age, in the US, they allow cars to be driven by kids but an adult with license needs to be sitting next to the kid in the car. We forget or we don’t care that these rules are made for the safety of individuals and in general safety of the people in society.  

Today morning, I was going out for a walk. In our building parking area, a kid 12 or 13-year-old, came on a scooter with his older brother, sitting behind him. I stopped them, gave them a bit of sermon. The older brother was a sensible guy. When I threatened that, I will report this to the police, he immediately agreed that he will never allow the kid to drive the scooter again, illegally. His argument, “Oh I just allowed him to drive in the society premises”! Same thing happened years back when I lived in a large society with good roads. The kid was similar age and he was driving a car. His father was sitting next to him. I stopped the car and asked the kid to get down. His father started an argument, I removed the car key and kept it in my pocket. His father’s argument; “Oh he drives beautifully blah, blah, blah”! When I asked the father about the risks and legality he had no answer.    

Now in India, a law has been promulgated to prevent such use of vehicles. The parents of such defaulting kids cannot hide behind the argument that their kid took the vehicle without their knowledge. But let me assure you that this has been happening from the time cars came into existence. I had a friend Ashok, when we were in engineering college. We used to “steal” his father’s car late at night when everyone was asleep. We would push it to a certain distance, away from home, without starting it, for obvious reasons. Not only Ashok, but all of us had driving licenses.  

We at younger age feel that we are infallible, immortal. Today a major fatal accident happened in Pune. A 20-year-old man had a different idea in his mind. At 4 am in the morning, he took his uncles car and went for a drive on an empty carriageway. He had a brilliant idea that he should send a live video feed to Instagram. He did the set-up on his cell phone, informed his friends and started driving at a very high speed. Can you imagine where his camera was focused? It was focused on the speedometer. The only way he could have done this was by holding the camera in one hand while driving. Great recipe! Empty road, high speed, one hand away from steering wheel! Add to this the exhilaration of sending live feed on Instagram. The inevitable happened, the car crashed against a barrier, the guy died instantaneously. The car was total loss; when I saw the picture in the newspaper, even without reading the news item, I knew that there would be no survivors! 

When such inevitable is known why some elements in the society, do not follow basic discipline? We sing paeans about western society, their discipline, their cleanliness, their organized way of life. But what do we do from our side to ensure that we will follow the same in India? In every phase of life, we break rules, we break laws, we are afraid to confront our kids who want to try something illegal; we never tell our kids that this is the law of land, you are just not allowed to drive a vehicle at this age. Kids just follow what their parents do at home or in the society. I remember an incident that I had seen years back. Two families were having dinner at a restaurant, enjoying their liquor too! No harm! But one of the mothers, drank way beyond her capacity! Her husband told their ten-year-old son, “Beta, take your Mumma to the wash room!” The Mumma could not take two steps in a straight line! 15 years later the same boy who must have turned into a dashing man, must have said when totally drunk, “Mumma was always right”!  

Disciplined, clean, advanced society? Start at home, confront your kids when required, follow the same path again and again. But looks like we definitely have something in our DNA. Leading actor Priyanka Chopda, was asked in an interview recently, what she misses from India as she is in the US most of the time! Prompt came her reply, ” Oh, reaching on time on film sets in the US is a big bore, in India I could reach as late as I wanted”! It might be her sense of humour but it is a bit weird!