Life’s Priorities!

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

Advertisements

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!

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!

 

 

 

Another View Point! The Native place!

My controversial take on “Going to Native Place”!

This is a very emotional and controversial subject I have touched and some of my friends may not agree with most of what I have written. But I have just tried to understand the conflict in minds of the people, that are tough to handle. 

Most of my life has been spent in cities of Pune and Mumbai with small breaks in between, when I was very young. So, I do not have the concept of “going to native place or गांव  or  मुलुख!” These two places have been my gaon! Pune is the native place for me. I have many friends who have their native places, which are much smaller towns or maybe tiny villages. So, I do not have the experience of going to the native place, like these people have. I am sure it must be nostalgic, lovely feeling. I hear many stories of these places, in some cases 50 years old and in others 30 years old. I was trying to imagine how wonderful it must be to have such memories. 

But the pragmatic guy in me poked me and said, “Hey, Pramod you also have a native place. But the only difference, between those who “actually” have a native place to go and you, is that you have lived almost all your life in your native place! Probably this is the reason you do not become nostalgic when talking about your native place!” Remembering olden days, enjoying the memories of old times is the best thing that a human has, which nobody can take away, ever! It’s must be fun and emotional  to go down the memory lane and enjoy oneself. I was talking to my friend Ram, who has his native place, a small town. He recently traveled to his native place. He shared with me the same thoughts as I visualized. He was nostalgic, he remembered many old things right from his grandfather’s time.  

The difference in the “native place” of others and my native place is that many of my friends from olden times are still in my native place, in fact some of them are still living in the same dwellings. I have seen my native place change in front of my eyes! Whereas in the “native places” that come up in discussion have changed from villages to much bigger villages or towns. Towns have become much bigger towns. When I think about this, I always felt how people feel when they go to native places that have lost many things to Time! How many of the old friends live there? If they have lived there all their lives, then have they changed with time? Do you have things common with them after 50 years? Are these things relevant today? 

I came across a poem by Kedarnath Singh, a Gyanpeeth award winner. The Poem is “Gaon Ane Par”!  (“On arriving at my native place”) First few lines of the poem are  

अब आ तो गया हूँ 

पर क्या करुँ मैं? 

एक बुढे पक्षी की तरह लौट-लौटकर 

मैं क्यों यहां चला आता हूँ बार -बार ? 

Below lines are my humble attempt to translate in English, the crux of what Kedarnathji has said. 

” I have come back to my native place,  

to do what?  

I keep on traversing here like an old bird,  

why do I keep coming here, again and again”? 

He is confused and it is obvious that he is not sure why he keeps on doing this. Are these the same people for whom I come here? He muses further. But when I see them, I need to go back in the old time-frame. These are the same people who are mine or are they mine? I don’t know where they live but why am I insistent that this is my home? 

The confusion in the poet’s mind is what happened in my mind too, about my friends who go to their “native place”. Their old homes where ever they lived, in most cases, do not exist. These have been replaced by new structures and maybe have new ownership. None of their close relatives live there. None of their old friends live there. Except for nature, the sea, the river, the hills everything else has changed. The people whom they see, are unknown to them like what you have in big Metros, the anonymous. School building has changed completely or a business center is built in its place. Landmarks of olden times have simply vanished. So, what do my friends go there for? For the name of that place? The place which has become foreign to what is in their minds!  

I am sure that there will be some nostalgic memories about some very specific things, which still exist. In my case, where I lived in my childhood in Mumbai, the same building still exists and is bit renovated. Families don’t live there anymore and a charitable trust runs an institution in that building. This institution provides low cost stay for people from outside Mumbai who are required to come and stay for medical treatment, a noble cause. But its presence kicks me in the butt and tells me how time has flown. There is zero  chance that someone will even vaguely know me. Will I become nostalgic by just entering those rooms where I lived in my childhood? To me nostalgia is something with a human touch. At least in my case, luckily, the building exists as it was in 1965! 

The poet further meanders with lines, what should I do to make people in the native place feel that I am one of them? They are mine, or are they? For whom I am writing this poem, will they ever read my poem…. should I touch someone, can I hug someone? He has a small fear in his mind. He has become a Dilliwala, a person from Delhi! He is not sure if his “Delhi” version will come in the way of their hug! These and other lines of  the poem have beautifully brought out the conflicting thoughts of this community of people going to their “native place”. Ram felt that very small percentage of people going back to native place feel really connected. Is it the pilgrimage taken out of some compulsion?  

There is new “going to native place” phenomena due migration to different countries. These people and people receiving them in the country of birth, naturally have different viewpoints. But it is painful and slightly embarrassing to know what some people have said about their native place. The well-known actor Priyanka Chopda said the other day, ” What I miss about India, is that I cannot reach the film sets late for work in the USA”, where she works currently! A young 30 something CA, a finance professional in Sydney, Australia said, when asked what he misses about his native country India? He said, ” Next week, I am going to Delhi for a holiday and break these damn traffic signals 30 to 40 times in first two days; I am fed up of straight jacketed life in Sydney”. If these persons were saying these things jokingly then they have a dark sense of humour!  

I can understand nostalgia, old memories and lovely times spent in the native place. But I think one should be more pragmatic about basics. When a lot of time has passed, maybe humans tend to become too dogged in thinking that nothing has changed in the native place. When you were young, your family, your culture of that time (cultures do change with time), your friends of that time, also change from the way you remember them. It is your mother or aunt or elder sister who were giving you the love and the lovely food of those times! So maybe the “going to native place” is the journey like jumping from a plane, using parachute! The thud you hear when you reach the ground is what brings us back to reality!  

 

 

The Family that eats together!

Common shared traits courtesy DNA/Genes!

It is said that Genes, DNA et al decide an individual’s personality or persona. The more I try to understand, the more I get confused. Genes or DNA play a very important role in children, siblings, cousins and various relatives. These come from both sides of the family trees and they come from different generations, not necessarily the next one.   Similarities are of course there but some traits are so different that my confusion increases. What better way than to compare siblings?

I can share with you examples of people I know. About some of them I know only a little but about some I know a lot of details. Let me tell you about two brothers. I know the elder one a little more. My judgement has been that they are both smart but the elder one has taken more genes from mother’s side and younger one from father’s side. Elder one is very soft spoken compared to the younger one. But they have managed all through the life to be together. I will explain the term “together”. They run a business. They always travel together to customers or vendors. They stay in the same house and apparently have never had any serious differences. Of course, there would be minor differences like in any two human beings. Their father who is still reasonably active, probably is the reason for this great bond between the brothers. Brothers are in their 50’s!  This to be a case of many similarities.

Another case is about two brothers from a couple of generations above me. Their father was an upright person and was running his family and extended family, efficiently. Both the brothers ended up working in government departments. One in Police and the other in Excise/Sales tax. The police officer continued to be upright and remained a person of integrity. He worked for anti-corruption bureau for some period. During this phase a few complaints had come to the bureau about the other brother. His police colleagues asked him a couple of times if they were related; he said no. His colleagues were smart and checked up the relationship, they were police after all. This probably saved the Police brother from ethical issues! Later on, both retired. Police officer in routine course and the other brother took premature retirement. The policeman ended up with a modest rented dwelling with modest pension and the other brother ended up with a large condo and a bungalow plus what more I don’t know. In fact, to hide his ill-gotten wealth, he managed to convince their upright father to take over ownership of his condo! I am sure he was a fantastic marketing guy! How can we explain the difference in two brothers? The police guy also had the same opportunities to be corrupt. They had the same father who was very upright and straight forward. They worked in a government setup. But how did one of them change so much? From where did the Genes or DNA’s come from? Or is it because the company he kept? I don’t know if the company you keep makes much difference to change basic ethics. 

Then there is another case of siblings, brother and sister. There is only a couple of years of age difference between them. Both are very intelligent, smart. Both did pretty well in their education though the sister was ahead by at least one horse length. Both started careers as trainees and ended up as director/CEO of respective organizations. Both traveled extensively abroad. Both lived extensively abroad for work. Both have been top professionals in their field. This is where the story begins. Brother has remained very conservative while sister has become very cosmopolitan. Brother appears to be money minded but the sister has a giving and sharing nature. Brother has been a difficult person to deal with and continues to do so. The sister has always been in a soft person, a leader with empathy. The brother and I have a common friend. This friend and the brother were colleagues for a long time. The friend said that once during a meeting they had ordered tea. Apparently when the tea arrived it was not hot enough. Reaction? The cup was thrown at the person who brought the tea. Luckily, he could duck! I have known them for a long time and the empathy the sister would show in any situation was to be seen to be believed. In her organization she was considered a star who could be approached even at midnight if situation demanded. She shared with me a story of her grandson all of four years old, living in the USA. For some program in school, she was also present and the parents were told to wait in a hall for the performance. All kids came but the grandson was missing. He appeared couple of minutes later, pushing the wheel chair of his classmate. When the teacher was asked how they handle who will push the wheelchair; she said for me it is very simple. Your grandson always insists that he will push! DNA? Genes? Take your pick!  

There is saying, “You get what you sow”. But I know of person from well-known family in Pune. He has become a Casanova who deceives married ladies and tries to wean away their money. Again, DNA? Genes? Take your pick!  

This last example that I shared with you, to me is an exception. The atmosphere in which you grow, the company you keep also affects your persona. I also feel that family which is close to each other has continuity in behaviour patterns in their future generations with some natural variations in the persona of individuals. It is very easy to become distant with your progeny, your siblings. In digital world of today this has become quite tricky. I will change a well-known saying a bit. The family that eats together, without cell phones, passes on the DNA’s & Genes, uniformly! Do you agree?  

 

Me Too!

When will the society learn to give women their due?

The “Me Too” movement (or “#MeToo“, with local alternatives in other languages) spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It followed soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. From the time of Adam, women have had to face many difficulties in simple process of living! What was their fault? Their body, hence their psyche put them under tremendous pressure. As the girl child crossed the puberty, the life became even more miserable. Girl child was made aware of their breasts which grew with age. I feel that the only reason to make them more miserable was, the so called weak sex could be raped and were always afraid of getting pregnant after rape. OK, things are not so bad today but they have also not improved much. What used to be done openly a few centuries back, is now being done discretely. Mind you, even today 3 or 4-year-old babies fall prey to such horrendous acts. 

We hear many things about women’s liberation, their going forward in life, their becoming top bosses, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Pilots and so on. But this number is miniscule. I am sure all these top end ladies also had to undergo shameful acts of certain males, to some extent, till they reached a certain level in their careers. What is it that leads to such situations? From childhood, the girl child is always disciplined to be docile, there are restrictions put on them; a non-conforming girl child is called Tom Boy! Behaviour patterns of boys and girls are predefined, boys can do what they want but girl will be told to behave when she performs similar mischief. It starts with their clothing. When a girl child enters a certain age, she is always instructed about her modesty; she is expected to sit in such a way that her underclothing will not be revealed. Ultimately, everything boils down to girl’s or woman’s sex! 

Look at the way women are stereotyped. A man goes to a lawyer’s office and is told by her colleague, that the concerned lawyer will come in ten minutes. After ten minutes, a lady enters the office. Our man tells the lady, ” Honey, could you get me some coffee?” She says, “Sure, I will get it from the machine.” She comes back and gives him the coffee. She tells him, “That’s 52 dollars”. The man is surprised and says, ” How so?” She says, “2 dollars for the coffee and 50 dollars is my fee. I the lawyer”. Forget the funny part but people just assume that lady in the office must be a receptionist!  

Whatever people may say, women have to bear pressures in their day to day lives. When there is some funny situation in a movie or somebody cracks a joke, men will laugh loudly and while doing so throw their head back; but women almost will never do that! What they will do is put a hand in front of their mouth, put their head down and smile! Why? They are trained to do so from beginning of their lives, they are trained to be docile. They cannot even laugh whole heartedly! That is because they are trained to please others from childhood! Women it seems, always think negatively about themselves! Talk of money matters in family and they will say it is my father’s job or my husband’s job! The ladies are always described as sacrificing, suffering, not achieving their dreams! They will never talk of leadership quality! In today’s world, you will observe some women are “like men” in many individual straits, work wise, but they have had to work really hard to achieve this. I have known of examples of a lady professional, in higher echelons technology industry. She has rarely met ladies at senior levels during her globe-trotting. This is true in USA, Europe and developed Asian countries.  

Women were considered second citizens and started getting voting rights in the beginning of last century. A modern country like Switzerland gave them voting rights in 60’s. In Middle Eastern countries, they started getting their voting rights in 90’s. As recently as 2017, women were not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia! In general the treatment given to women has been terrible and shoddy all these years and continues even today!

How is “Me Too” progressing world over? Except USA, there hardly appears to be any progress in other countries including India, that too in professional arena. We in India,  have large number of lady professionals in various fields. This encompasses all professions from Films to Rockets, Pilots to Technology, Banking to Armed forces! Not a single organized “Me Too” activity is seen or heard anywhere. Do we mean to say that they never faced any problems? What about the “Casting Couch”  that we hear about! Do we mean to say that Indian men are next to God and have treated the ladies around them with great respect? I hope we remember Nirbhaya! It was an extreme case of brutality but thought process was the same; women are objects of desire! I read a statistic somewhere that more than 70 % of rapes are by relatives or people in close contact with the family! This indicates the raw thought process in our society! God knows how many such rapes are not even reported!  

Why does this happen? What is the solution? What is the way forward? There is some progress in organized sector which have formal committees to handle harassments discretely. But what about homes! We have culture in many states in India where women are just live, they have no rights, they have no say in anything, they will be forced to do what they are told. I read in a Pune newspaper yesterday. A girl overcame family poverty and resistance to study. She stood first in the state competitive exam called MTS. She wants to become an IAS or IFS officer. What did her father  tell the reporters? No more education for her; education spoils them and they behave indecently. She should now take up the profession of a seamstress like her mother is doing all her life!  

How can this change? We talk of thousands of years of old culture in India but in the year 2018 we want to apply those same laws and thought processes of the olden days when we were all primitives! (In thoughts, majority are still primitive even today) Winners used to  take all women, the weak sex! It may not happen so openly today, but behind office cultures, in universities it keeps on  happening. Unless a big turmoil takes place in thought process by women in India, unless ladies openly start our own “Me too” which may be called “मैं भी” movement, situation will continue to be in the same way. It is for liberal thinking families to encourage their girl child to act in such a way that they should feel equal to the male child, still retaining all the beautiful female traits!  Let us not forget that this beautiful world is made up of both men and women. Girls and boys! Let us all create harmony between them in such a way that we live a much better but “real modern” world, where thinking is modern and not only the dress sense!  

Human reactions!

Greed or abnormal thoughts over come normal humans!

It is impossible to predict how humans will act, react and behave. We expect that the human behavior will be more rational in developed countries but it does not appear so! This thought came to my mind when I read a news item today about death of Jeff Murphy in Yellow Stone National Park in the USA along with other news items. 

A guy called Fenn has written a memoir where he talks about treasure hidden by him. Fenn claims his treasure chest contains 265 gold coins, ancient Chinese jade figurines, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs. He estimates tens of thousands of people have gone looking for it, sharing their experiences on blogs and treasure hunting forums. One of his motives in hiding it, he told an ABC affiliate in 2015, was to “get the kids off the couch and away from the game machine.” 

A mysterious 24-line poem in his memoir is supposed to hint at the location. It ends with the following lines: “So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and, in the wood, I give you title to the gold.” 

In last few years, beside Murphy 5 to 6 more people have died looking for this treasure. I just cannot believe, that just because someone has claimed to have hidden some treasure, people are getting killed to look for the same. Fenn appears to be a person who has done this for some purpose, with all the trappings of treasure hunt where hints are hidden in a poem he has published! What makes people, in today’s times, with so much technological advancements, to fall into such traps? Do their families not stop them? Amount involved is not such that one should get himself killed. The place where the treasure is supposed to be hidden is from southern most USA to up North! From whatever little I could understand, the people who attempted and died, did not appear to be “crazy’ persons!  

Another news item I read today’s newspaper is about an ex Minister from the Indian state of Bihar! His tenure in the ministry was completed and was required to vacate his bungalow as a normal practice. As a real world normal practice, the politicians squat on the property and prolong their stay as much as possible. Suddenly, he vacated the bungalow. He claimed that the chief minister has sent some ghosts in the bungalow to ensure that he will vacate! Can you believe such statement?  This person was a minister the government, he was supposedly running a department. In the year 2018, the claim that ghosts have been sent to the bungalow is ridiculous and bizarre to say the least! How do such people become ministers? How do they get elected? It is said that the society is governed by the people it deserves? Are we such a bad society? Or maybe I see only a miniscule part of society that appears modern!  

In United States, there has been a trend in last 20 years of random shootings in schools where innocent children are killed. Till today, in 2018 there have been 18 deaths and 40 plus injuries. All over US, there are  lot of discussions and protests going on. Finally,  US President felt that it is important enough to meet the families of the kids who died. All have demanded that the Gun Laws in the US should be tightened. A young person cannot buy beer in US till he becomes 21 but he can buy a Gun when becomes 18!  

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights  Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right, per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights. 

This was adopted in the year 1791 more than 200 years back when there was wild west, carpetbaggers and gold diggers! The country itself was like the last frontier. This amendment was suitable for those days! In between the gun lobby and industry has taken over the thought processes. National Rifle Association was founded in the year 1871 and the same thought process continues! Their motto is “people kill people”, guns don’t! This lobby just does not allow any changes in the law. End result is that we see the random killing of innocent kids! American authorities including their President have come up with a beautiful solution. The President finally had listening meeting with parents of the children killed. He suggested that teachers should be provided with weapons to handle random gunmen who come with rifles! Currently teachers try to hide in the classroom along with the students. Now they will be exposed as they have guns and there can more killings in crossfire. The officials in Florida have suggested that their officers will attack the gunmen with assault rifles! Wow! What a solution! How these people’s minds work? Gun lobby should not be disturbed! That is a sacred cow giving donations to political parties! How can you disturb the bandwagon? Will this ever change in the USA?  

Friends I have shared some random examples of human behavior. The first one is about individuals who got themselves killed because of their greed. The second one is about a minister in the government who believes in paranormal stuff and was supposedly running a department. Third example is about killings of innocent kids due to adamant behavior of authorities in the society. Why do such reactions happen? Is greed so bad that that people don’t bother about their own death or deaths of innocents due to an irrelevant law which came into being 200 years back and was relevant at that point of time! I am writing this with a great anguish and sadness! What do you feel about these issues?  

 

 

 

Life’s Speed breakers- Reblogged!

Don’t Call Cancer as C word! Call it CANCER and face life’s challenges up front!


This is a blog written by me in 2015; today for some reason I felt that its a good idea to reblog the same!

Life patterns have changed for many in my generation in a way, at least I had never expected. In our parents’ generation 58/60 was the age for retirement. In those days most people retired and quietly went into the sunset. Deaths within a few years of retirement were very common, one of the reasons could have been there was nothing to look forward to! This was true in case of males, but women somehow remained busy with household chores, helping their daughters/ daughter in laws and grandchildren.

Our generation has seen things from bullock carts to electric/hybrid cars, snail mail (भारतीय डाक सेवा) to WhatsApp and god knows what in future! Going has been generally good. In our generations people try to work as long as possible because of reasonably good health, opportunities and will! When in life things are following a normal course, one tends to forget the human fallibility. Heart attacks, cancers, dementia, and accidents always happen in other homes not in my home! So we tend to breeze through and generally are in cruise control or auto pilot mode. We tend to forget that there can be speed breakers in our lives. I am writing about how I “flew” over a speed breaker, had rough landing and managed to go into “cruise control” mode again.

 Why this blog?

In life we have to face difficulties starting from family difficulties, to financial difficulties, health difficulties and so on. I thought I should share my experience with others to let them know that these are surmountable provided we keep a positive attitude in tough situations. Of course HIS blessings are the first thing you should have!! Which of above mentioned difficulties are tough to handle, everybody will have different opinion but in my opinion the above mentioned sequence is in reducing degree of difficulties. It is always good to have financial soundness plus decent insurance coverage. This puts your mind at rest about the expenses involved.

These tough times could be overcome mainly due family support and positive attitude. (By family I mean the family, extended family and friends) Probably the saying, “Tough get going when times are tough” is very apt here. During my treatment phase I have seen a patient go down as he did not have good family support. He required hospitalization and his wife never came to meet him! She was afraid of hospitals; he never recovered. So when there is a critical event in your home, it is not only you but your whole close family goes through tough times. Even if one cog in the system is weak, handling the same can be very very difficult. I was lucky we had no weak links!!

I have chosen to give this date wise activity to explain how my family and I took quick decisions to move fast with treatment. As they say Time (and Cancer) wait for nobody!!

The Story

I was continuing with my profession and was 64 years of age, in November 2013. Though my life was not very high speed life, it was reasonably busy. I was cruising in my life with manageable health issues and my mind set was as per previously mentioned thoughts, in short I thought I was infallible.

One fine day, I woke up with a squeaky voice (in retrospect, voice quality had changed a couple of weeks before) and thought maybe some oily foods or cooler weather is causing issues. I went to my ENT friend Vijay for the check-up; he suggested usual gargling and minor medication and said “call me when you get well!” After a couple of more check-ups and medications, including steroids Vijay said some more check-ups are needed. I was guided to Dr. Sant;

1st Dec 2013

On that day there was some health issue for our new born grand-daughter Rhea; I told Jaya and Priya that I will go alone for the check-up. I almost decided to go alone but Deepti insisted that Raju will go with me! Check-up was done using Stroboscope and Dr.  Sant said, Pramod I wish my diagnosis is wrong, but I am yet to make incorrect diagnosis. “You have cancerous growth on your left vocal cord and that is the reason for change in voice”! What a speed breaker! I bumped my head on the roof, was almost thrown on the wind screen! From Dr. Sant’s office, called Jaya and discussed. Called Dr. Atul (my nephew and physician) and immediately at 8 pm we went for CAT scan to check the spread, if any. Luckily no spread! On the way, ate something; diagnosis did not prevent me from getting hungry!

3rd Dec 2013

Second meeting with Dr. Sant and he had con call with Dr. Vijay and Dr. Bokil, Onco surgeon. Plan decided. 7th Dec Excisional Biopsy by Dr. Sant at Sahyadri Hospital.

7th Dec 2013

On 6th evening got myself admitted in the hospital, again Raju was great help! He stayed with me for the night. At admission counter, clerk said please get the patient; I said I am the patient! She was surprised, maybe I looked impatient!! At night, doctors wanted to take X-Ray. I walked out of the room towards X Ray area but the helper came rushing and said I must use wheelchair! I said why; he said that was the protocol and besides that doctors will blow him out if I don’t use wheelchair! Biopsy done on 7th, looks like everything went as expected. Was back in the room with major pain in the throat. Was back home in the evening, again Raju and Deepti took us home.

10th Dec 2013

The results declared, Dr. Sant passed with flying colours, cancer was confirmed.

14th Dec 2013

After discussions with Dr. Bokil, went to Ruby Hall to finalize radiation stuff with Dr. Maiya, Radiation Oncologist. Plan fixed. Dr. Maiya had told us at the beginning of the treatment, that in cancer treatment, upto 60% cure is due to family and positivity; balance 40% consists of medicines, doctors and equipment. If one remains positive, medicines and treatment are more effective.

  • Immunotherapy intravenous weekly- total 8 doses
  • 34 radiations

20th Dec 2013

First dose of immunotherapy given in ICU (just in case) and the radiations to be started within 2/3 days. Feeding tube inserted by Dr. Bokil through the nose for later use.

23rd Dec 2013

First radiation given; same day moved to new home next to Priya for easy management of the baby and grandpa!

Fell into a routine of leaving for Ruby hall 6.20 am daily.

24th January 2014

Radiation put on hold due to cough and minor fever. General weakness felt as Steroids, Antibiotics and drugs to check blood/sugar taking its toll! Sugar level checked thrice a day. Difficulty in swallowing solid food starts. A couple of feeds of liquid diet started. Body rash in head, neck and on back but manageable. Throat pain begins and so do pain killers; followed by cough bouts especially at night. I was not hospitalised but was at home right through.

2nd February 2014

Switched over 100% to liquid formula for adults; there are two of us on liquid formula in the house, grandfather competing with grand-daughter! For me it was delta change of switching from solid diet to liquid diet but for Jaya it was a logistics nightmare. Giving me first feed at 5 am so that we could leave home for Radiation at 6.20 am. Needed eight feeds to keep me going and in the whole process I lost only about 3 kgs. (Atul said weight goes down upto 10/15 kgs sometimes) My last daily feed was at 11 pm. Logistics for this feed was 15 minutes preparation, 15 minutes for feed and 15 minutes cleaning the stuff. Eight such feeds in a day plus tablets three times a day was also a feed because I could not swallow!! Plus managing day to day chores at home!! Phew! Plus managing phone calls, visitors (we had requested all to differ visits) How Jaya managed!!

16th February

Jaya had a very strong migraine attack and had to be hospitalised. On her way to hospital she called Ashwini, who rushed. She and Priya managed last couple of days of my feeds and otherwise!

20th February

Final radiation treatment!

Family Support

During all this process Dr. Gauri our niece came and stayed with us for 5/6 days. Priya was trying her best to support even while nursing the baby. Our son Sachin came from USA and stayed for two weeks. Last three days of the treatment was logistics nightmare. Jaya collapsed due to all the stress. She had an attack of relief migraine. Jaya went to hospital and checked in like hotel check in, got herself treated for 3 days, paid her bill and came back! Who managed me during this period? Our other niece Ashwini rushed at 1 hr notice and managed with some help from Priya. Who managed Jaya, God and family!! Of course Raju and Deepti were there to support all the time. Dada and Pushpatai was there for moral support. Situ, Ashwini and Anish came so did Mai & Nilkanthrao. Jaya’s brother Nanda a great support for logistics. Nikhil & Sushil were also a great help.

Friends Support

Jayprakash took Jaya to hospital when she had migraine attack, Sanjay came and met. Sharya, Ram Prabhu, Prakash Raykar came from Mumbai to meet. Chandru, Bhave, Bhide, Dada Parulekar, Santosh, Ajit, Pakya Nirgudakar (in spite of his own issues) barged in. Vijay & Madhuri came down from Mumbai. Jaya requested, Sudip, Rufus and many others to differ visit as she was getting overwhelmed! But Ranjith had come from Australia so came in with Rufus. Saurabh dropped in from Mumbai. There were so many emails, WhatsApp messages and so forth which was a reassurance that help was just one phone call away. I may have missed some names for which I may be pardoned!!

Unknown parameters

Initially I did not even know that there will be 34 radiations, I thought just one or two radiations and it’s done. I also did not know that immunotherapy was a full day affair of intravenous drug, and potassium support. Weekly blood/urine tests were also not known to me!!I also did not know that I had to wear Spiderman type of mask during Radiations!! Prognosis was the unknown factor but Doctors started indicating that cancer of vocal cords is a non-spreadable variety and there were chances that recurrence may not happen as the spread was also minimum. Fear of the unknown, honestly it was never there!

Medical fraternity professionalism

Atul, as the physician, was as usual there to indicate what can and cannot happen. Dr Maiya, Radiation Oncologist, was very clear in his thoughts and explained to us the complete roadmap during the treatment; it was like when the real issues will start, when they will taper off, what are the precautions to be taken; he was available 24/7 which luckily was not needed.

Emergencies

Once I was required to rush for chest x ray due to persistent cough, but things turned out to be normal. Once there was an indication of kidney function issue but Atul reassured that things were under control. No other emergencies cropped up.

Recovery

Dr. Maiya had explained how recovery will happen by talking my language, in graphical form. It took exactly same path indicated by Dr. Maiya. Within ¾ days of last radiation, I could switch back to bland but solid food. My throat condition would not allow me cold, sour, hot stuff. But it felt good to eat normal food. During first week of recovery, while surfing on the net, bought two tickets for Cricket World Cup final at MCG, (in March 2015!) maybe my way of declaring to myself that I am on recovery path. Started some normal activities, small walk, office for a couple of hours a day on alternate days, and then daily office for four hours. In June I started full fledge office and in July I started with out of Pune travel for work. During this phase some weakness was felt. Later on I started to drive  myself to travel outside Pune. On the whole recovery path was normal with no hick ups. Mental challenge was more than the physical challenge.

October 2015

Except the throat infections, I now do not have any issues. Throat area was directly bombarded with Radiations, so I am sure throat infections will keep on coming at more than normal frequency for some time. Life is back to normal; once in a while I have started thinking that I am infallible!! I travelled to Australia, will be travelling end of October to meet my sons’ family in Seattle. Travel for work is normal plus the greatest benefit is we had 2/3 get together meetings with friends!! What more can one want from life! I can confidently say that I am back to cruising mode thanks to Him, thanks to family and friends!