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December 6, 2016

Treatment of parents

Filed under: common man, family, social change — neosurya @ 17:23

I had a friend (A) who posed a problem a few days ago: We were speaking about taking care of his father (B). B had a regular job, but did not take particular care of his kids. Each day after office, B came home for a short while in the evening, and stayed to himself. Income was regular, and the mother of A was efficient. So, the kids were able to get a good childhood. But it was very clear that B had no real role in their upbringing. A’s life was not ruined because B’s income was more than sufficient. B however, was totally disinterested in family life.

B (the father), and B’s wife (A’s mother) were living in Bangalore. A’s mother had recently passed away. Till the mom was alive, A and his siblings (a sister in India and a brother who was in USA) would visit B occasionally. Festivals and other customary visits were kept up. B and his wife regularly visited A and siblings also. For about 3-4 months a year, B and his wife would come and stay with A. But there was no real love lost between B and rest of the family.

B continued to visit his kids after his wifes death. But B was not a pleasant person to be with. His friends were no more, and he would continuously complain about one thing or the other. No major physical or financial damage, but there would be no fatherly (or grand-fatherly)  involvement as well. He would have an unpleasant face all through the day, and entering his room was like seeing a person who is sulking his way to the other world. B would be extremely particular about his schedule, food habits, and general preferences about daily life.

The challenge was that B was going to be over 80. There was no disease in particular, but he was getting old. Senility was bringing on other challenges.

A argued that B should be sent to an old home while B was still in OK health. Once health went down further, argued A, it will be difficult for B to adjust to an old home. B did not want to be sent to an old home. B was saying that to get his (substantial) self-gained property, A and his siblings must take care of B at home.

I had seen another father once like this. An old man, in his 80’s living near Tarnaka, Osmania University, Hyderabad. I had gone to him to seek legal advise. His room was on the first floor of the garage of an independent villa in Tarnaka. The villa was his own, but he had given the whole place for rent. His servant lived downstairs in the garage, and he lived upstairs. The room had a desk with an old transistor radio facing a window that overlooked the street. An old teak bed had been set towards one of the walls with a grayed out mosquito net that had seen more regal times. There were about 3 chairs in the room, but only one was empty. The others had huge stacks of letters and legal correspondence. There was a bookshelf on one side which recessed into the wall. It also probably held his clothes.

While discussing the legal problem, I had mentioned that I was from such and such company. The father slowly got out his sons card, and said you know him – “He is the senior Engg VP of ***. Do you know him? He is also into IT.”. This old man’s son was a very senior executive in a global multinational company. When I say senior, really senior – like the VP of a major engg. division of a Fortune 500 firm. He could have been my bosses bosses boss. The father was speaking about his son with pride, but it was apparent that he could not live with the son either. The old father made a point to mention that all his grandkids visit him during major festivals. “Even if they miss some due to exams, they come during Deepavali for sure.”, he said.

I have seen some unfortunate mothers’, father-in-laws, and mother-in-laws also in the same situation. Maybe there were good reasons to do this. Maybe the women or men created unhappy situations in the family. Maybe the father or mother were more nasty and looked mellow to strangers. Maybe there are some worse family secrets. Maybe this is a necessary feature of our modern, liberal, urban lifestyle. Maybe. Maybe not.

But I wonder, If we cannot take care of a mother and father who gave us birth, can we be good to complete strangers? If we give second chances to a terrorist, a murderer, a common criminal, why not parents? Maybe it is wishful thinking on part of a liberal society that humans are good. Maybe there is no true love among humans. Maybe. Maybe not.

December 5, 2016

Real Job? What real job?

Filed under: Uncategorized — neosurya @ 11:43

Very few of us are doing real jobs. I try explaining this to friends sometimes, but am left speechless by their inability to fathom the very evident truth. This article sums up my one liner very nicely. Quote:

When it comes to garbage collectors, though, it’s different. Any way you look at it, they do a job we can’t do without. And the harsh truth is that an increasing number of people do jobs that we can do just fine without. Were they to suddenly stop working the world wouldn’t get any poorer, uglier, or in any way worse. Take the slick Wall Street traders who line their pockets at the expense of another retirement fund. Take the shrewd lawyers who can draw a corporate lawsuit out until the end of days. Or take the brilliant ad writer who pens the slogan of the year and puts the competition right out of business.

Instead of creating wealth, these jobs mostly just shift it around.

Of course, there’s no clear line between who creates wealth and who shifts it. Lots of jobs do both. There’s no denying that the financial sector can contribute to our wealth and grease the wheels of other sectors in the process. Banks can help to spread risks and back people with bright ideas. And yet, these days, banks have become so big that much of what they do is merely shuffle wealth around, or even destroy it. Instead of growing the pie, the explosive expansion of the banking sector has increased the share it serves itself.

Or take the legal profession. It goes without saying that the rule of law is necessary for a country to prosper. But now that the U.S. has 17 times the number of lawyers per capita as Japan, does that make American rule of law 17 times as effective? Or Americans 17 times as protected? Far from it. Some law firms even make a practice of buying up patents for products they have no intention of producing, purely to enable them to sue people for copyright infringement.

Bizarrely, it’s precisely the jobs that shift money around – creating next to nothing of tangible value – that net the best salaries. It’s a fascinating, paradoxical state of affairs. How is it possible that all those agents of prosperity – the teachers, the police officers, the nurses – are paid so poorly, while the unimportant, superfluous, and even destructive shifters do so well?

In fact, it has become increasingly profitable not to innovate. Imagine just how much progress we’ve missed out on because thousands of bright minds have frittered away their time dreaming up hypercomplex financial products that are ultimately only destructive. Or spent the best years of their lives duplicating existing pharmaceuticals in a way that’s infinitesimally different enough to warrant a new patent application by a brainy lawyer so a brilliant PR department can launch a brand-new marketing campaign for the not-so-brand-new drug.

Imagine that all this talent were to be invested not in shifting wealth around, but in creating it. Who knows, we might already have had jetpacks, built submarine cities, or cured cancer.

November 22, 2016

Dog that travelled a long distance

Filed under: Uncategorized — neosurya @ 23:06

A few months ago, I think around May, I was dropping my kids at their school. I saw a battered pup on the street close to their campus. The dog was bleeding from its mouth, and was almost certainly going to be killed.

I picked it up, decided that that I will feed it, get it healthy, give it some shots. The plan was to take it to our farmhouse after it became strong enough. Around June, I dropped the dog at our farm house. But found out within a week that it had ran off.

On Sept 7th, the dog showed up at our house. It had traveled a long distance to be back with us🙂. I still think I should give it up for adoption to someone who can take better care of it. I had trained it to bring a ball, stay outside the house during day time. Respond to sit, stop and go. With my work related travel, I have very little time to take care of it. Kids are also too young to be responsible for it:-/.

But yes, I was impressed with the commitment and love of the little mutt.🙂

November 1, 2016

Education vs Vocation vs Job

Filed under: Uncategorized — neosurya @ 15:05

A very interesting article on the Atlantic, original link here, and excerpt here:

At a recent conference, I listened to a university president boast about a program she had developed in partnership with several local high schools. She told the story of one teenager who lived in a rural area and worked full time on his family’s farm in addition to attending high school. The university president explained that the young man had little promise for attending college because of his circumstances. But through the dual-credit program, he was able to gain college credit while still in high school, which gave him the confidence to seek an associate’s degree in agriculture and return home to work on his family farm. I listened as she proudly told this young man’s story and the audience cheered for both of them, and all I could think was: What an extraordinary waste of time.

Many students these days spend 16+ years in a class room with little knowledge of their capacities. Worse, it even makes them believe that their likes, dislikes, and success metrics need to be consistent with some hard coded social rules. There is too much conditioning and too little learning. Schools and even jobs these days do not allow self-discovery, a trait that singularly separates us from animals.

Contrast the above article with this one on Khadi; Excerpt:

In the 1980s, when Santosh joined the trust, he also began Hosa Jeevana Daari (a new way of life), a centre for sustainable living alternatives. Santosh regards Masanobu Fukuoka, the author of One-Straw Revolution, as a major influence in his life and this reflects in his outlook towards agriculture in particular, and sustainability as a whole.
Seeing the demand move favourably towards khadi and naturally dyed fabric, Santosh also began the khadi unit. His son Sumanas was home-schooled up to Class VII and then joined a Kannada-medium school. He went on to complete his masters in biodiversity conservation at Oxford and has been working closely with the khadi weaving centre.
The initiatives that the trust is currently into encompasses the interests and expertise of all three generations—a specialized adoption agency, a tree-planting effort with rare native varieties of the area, the centre for sustainable living alternatives that is primarily into environment education and the khadi weaving unit. But it is the last one, with its unique perspective to productivity, which is intriguing.

October 31, 2016

How to gift

Filed under: Uncategorized — neosurya @ 18:41

This festive season, some people asked me why I did not give them a certain gift. Advaita philosophy has some guidelines to be followed. Here is an excerpt from a book on Advaita:

how_to_gift.jpg

Original link:

https://books.google.co.in/books?id=RX67hbbtW6kC&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12

October 26, 2016

Pilot, why dont you fix my airplane?

Filed under: Uncategorized — neosurya @ 20:44

This post is in response to the following article:

http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/ginger-thoughts/article/should-a-daughter-in-law-take-care-of-her-parents-in-law-an-honest-answer

The article just riles about the issue, forgetting to highlight the true cause(s):

  1. The importance of specific jobs in society is under-rated. How will it be if a pilot asks an engineer to do the job of flying, or the engineer asks a pilot to repair the airplane? In a human relationship, wife is a pilot sometimes, an engineer at other times. Ditto the husband. If one claims the other job to be insignificant, they are in for trouble. The problem these days is that one tries to “measure” the importance of an engineer vs a pilot.
  2. We define our value by a job, bank balance, car, or any other material object. We assign a value to ourselves based on our ability to gather such objects. These days, even husbands and wives measure each other with such barometers. Parents do the same thing to kids. Hopefully, someday we shall start giving importance based on values that we carry – like kindness, truthfulness, and generally “being human”.
  3. Once, my MIL had fallen sick. I showed up at their house, cooked meals and took her to the doctor for a few days. I considered this to be normal behavior. It became a story in my family. Sometimes, even repeated by my wife despite my insistence that this was just normal behavior that one should expect from every human being. It is sad that such “normal” behavior needs to be defined in terms of being a man, a woman, a son, or daughter etc. I am learning that in current society, there are many such normal things that have become abnormal.
  4. I believe I worked to the best of my ability in the situation described above. But I also know that my wife would have been better in that capacity. She is simply a more sensitive, more understanding person. Our capacities in different roles, our skin color, our gender, the length of our **** is an accident of biology or at best a play of creation. We should treat it as such and proceed with lives. In the process, use the best tool for the job at hand. Be a team.

Unfortunately, in this era of big data and happy meals, a big heart and a happy family has become scarce.

Disclaimer: After reading the article about husband-wife, I made following assumptions:

  1. Both wife and husband thought that the job of “going to cook, clean or mop for your parents” is somehow less important. But, no point blaming them alone; most of the society these days gives less importance to these tasks. In fact, if anyone hires a servant to do this work, they would pay him/her about Rs 4-5K max as salary. This amount is probably on the higher side:-/.
  2. Given the tone of the article, I assumed that the husband asked his wife because he did not know how to cook clean or mop. The latter is not excusable. Most men are brought up in a manner that they do not know how to mop, cook, or clean. This sucks.

 

October 8, 2016

Bull Shit vs Cow Dung

Filed under: Uncategorized — neosurya @ 03:35
Just found out that we can buy cowdung cakes online from Amazon: http://www.amazon.in/Amit-Marketing-100-Dung-Gobar/dp/B01CR0PE0Q?tag=googinhydr18418-21
 
Selling dung online is a blessing. Have you ever had litti choka made on cowdung cakes? It is awesome. The messy part is to get the cow dung cake. I had to buy fresh dung from a local store and dry it to get desired results. Yep, it was an involved process. But burning dung + wood = awesome barbecue.
 
My love for fresh milk and dung made me seriously consider buying a whole cow. Feed grass. Get Milk + dung. Then I found out that the milk part gets complicated. Cows give milk only when they have suckling calves. Creating suckling calves meant I would need to have a bull. Or go with the more “industrial” methods of creating suckling calves: (A) Bovine version of artificial insemination, (B) Injections to keep the milk flowing minus the suckling. That would generate way too much BullShit.
 
BTW, farmers did tell me that “A” and “B” are not required. Milk does come naturally even if you do not have calves. You just have to ensure that the udders are milked everyday. But I need to verify this independently.
 
I need to find better things to do at 3:00 AM on a Sat. 

September 24, 2016

Unreal maya

Filed under: personal, Uncategorized — neosurya @ 19:10

Modern food:        unreal (Processed, packaged, ready to eat)
Modern wind:         unreal (Fan, AC, Central AC)
Modern medicine:    unreal (Allopathy)
Modern entertainment:    unreal (When was the last time you say a life performance?)
Modern relations:    unreal (Facebook, instagram, linkedin)

In modern times, we really have proved that world is unreal (maya)🙂

Bodies move in a steely frame of concrete and metal.
Confident that this is their world.
Nary a sweat needs to be shed to grow a grain.
Food boxes overflow within an arms reach.
Juices and water found in brilliant bottles.
The wind always blows cold and comfortable.
Not a germ in sight, every cough and fever cured.
Lest we worry, there is jest a-plenty.
Switch the tube, switch again, titillate your brain.
And to speak of friends, we have very many.
Everyone within a link, no risk of infamy.

We know beyond these walls lurks another.
Where hard work involves sweat and dirt.
Food grows, and not everything is available all year.
Where wind blows cold, hot and truthfully is all over.
No medicines just leave and roots.
Germs are everywhere, eating us sometimes but mostly eating each other.
You have to work to even laugh or cry.
It involves real labor, not a room or box
Friends you have, but enemies you have too.
Links are a few, but they have to be near you.

Yes, this concrete and metal is not real.
But, we are already born within.
Yes, this concrete and metal is temporary.
But, it is so easy to stay within.
Yes, the truth may be better.
But, we know only to stay within.

August 9, 2016

Attack

Filed under: Uncategorized — neosurya @ 03:37

We pushed a bar through her stomach,
And rejoiced as we broke her outer skin.
We continued till she profusely bled,
And were swept away by a mad glee.
A hole we had already pierced in her.
Many holes we were planning to make.

To survive we dug into her.
To live, we are digging into her.
To enjoy, we are digging into her.
Mother earth, how long will you bear?
This weight of our joy, pleasure and sorrow.
Mother earth, the life-giver who continues to care.
For a children who take the precious from you,
And spit at you their unwanted share.

This is the third instance in this year that I have
directly or indirectly been responsible for a borewell.

A mother feeds a baby willingly, but what if the child asked for more? Much more than what she could give of her own accord. Would the mother still give? My guess is that we are asking for too much.

In any case, this is an academic exercise. I will not stop the construction. But I can say a few words that look nice on facebook.

April 27, 2016

Three politicians in a Bombay local train

Filed under: bombay, democracy, governance, India, jaago rey, politics — neosurya @ 17:42

Three politicians got into a fast local as it was pulling out of Kalyan headed towards CST: Left, right, and Congressi.
———————————————————
Stop 1. Kalyan: Hardly any people sitting on the seats, mostly empty train.
Left:   This is an abomination. In the name of development, the Govt has stolen land from farmers to build useless trains.
Right:    Can we sell the empty seats to Reliance?
Congressi: All hail Indira. The train should stop at minority railway stations like Thakurli, Diwa etc.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
———————————————————
Stop 2. Thane: All seats had been taken.
Left: What about the poor farmers outside Bombay? These trains have never created any benefit for the poor people outside Bombay.
Right: Can we sell the standing place to Reliance?
Congressi: All hail Rajeev. What do you mean the train is fast? How do the other stations develop?
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
———————————————————
Stop 3. Ghatkopar: There are four people sitting on each bench that is meant for three. More than 50% of the standing space has been taken up.
Left: This is a class struggle !!! How can the trains have seats for only three people when clearly the public demand is for four seats.
Right: Can we remove the seats completely, and sell them to Adani?
Congressi: All hail Sonia. We have to protect the interests of minorities in Ghatkopar. They rarely get a window seat. There must be reservation and special law for all stations after Thane.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
———————————————————
Stop4. Kurla: All the standing space is taken up.
Left: This is clearly the time for revolution !!! Farmers and villagers have spilled their blood for the train, now they have no space left.
Right: This train is not serving the purpose. Let us invite consultants from private sector to build a new train.
Congressi: All hail Rahul. Rahul baba will come to supervise the conditions of trains. He will connect with the youth and the marginalized.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
———————————————————
Stop 5. Dadar: There is no place in the compartment. People hanging for dear life from outside the train.
Left: We have to open the eyes of the world to see this oppression !!! We will write editorials and documentaries about the unjust Indian society, culture and history that has lead to this sad state of affiars.
Right: We will build a bullet train from Kalyan to CST, covering this distance in 10 minutes. There will be no crowds, and it will not stop at any of the pesky stations on the way. It will cost 6000 crores which will be repaid over the next 50 years.
Congressi: We have convened a national convention that has recommended common minimum seat demand. Accordingly, we will have a high power commission that will commission separate trains for each station. There will be reservations for each station on each train. There will be separate ticket collectors for passengers from each station.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?

———————————————————

Last stop. Between Dadar and CST: There is a blast in one of the compartment.
Left: This violence is the expression of people supressed by fascist, regressive policies. We stand in solidarity.
Right: Attack Pakistan. Enter Burma.
Congressi: We realize your pain. Gandhi family also made a huge sacrifice for the nation.
Common man: Will I get to work and return to my family after work? Can someone please kill these three politicians?

———————————————————

Distance between Kalyan and CST is about 70 Kms. There are about 25 stations between Kalyan and CST. The fast local trains in Bombay stop at about 6 of them. Slow trains stop at all stations. People from all religions and walks of life travel in complete peace and harmony. A banker rubs shoulders with a dabbawala, and a student all in the same compartment. There are rarely any fights, and certainly not for seats.

Kanhaiya Kumar spoke about “fights” for seats in the local trains of Bombay. I grew up in the lovely city, went to school and college. I travelled in these trains and BEST buses for a major part. Politicians like Kanhaiya can only fabricate divisive issues. It is a sad state of affairs that the common man gets crushed between these selfish interests.The media routinely replay words from these politicians. Who will replay the true emotions of people?

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