A Common Enemy.

No, I will not talk about the latest common enemy.  For me, the common enemy has been for many decades, the idea of “the other”.  Mind you, I am talking about the idea and not “the other”.

“The other” has been the bane of human beings from time immemorial and there does not seem to be any end to it, not at least in my life time.

Let us take the most common today.  Islamophobia.  A conference of some Heads of Islamic States was recently held to address this issue. This is a global phenomenon and locally in India, I have recently been reading some very explosive material on the alienation that the Muslims in India feel. The first one is this book from a young mother and the other is from two very knowledgeable and erudite Muslims of India.

All the three links given above will give my readers some idea about the problems faced by the Islamic world in general and the Muslims of India. I am particularly concerned about the latter as it can have serious repercussions in the next few years with Right Wing nationalism growing in India, Pakistan imploding and Bangladesh in an economic crisis. If the problems faced by the two countries result in a refugee problem in India, there will be a major upheaval which I would rather that did not take place.

Let us talk about some other kind of “Others”. Here is an instance of old people becoming the other. I would very much like to meet this worthy when and if he ever gets to be as old as the people that he suggests die for the cause.

Need I say anything about the biggest “Other”, gender?

Every community has its share of “The Others”, thanks to inadequate education of the different types of people, religions, languages, colour, appearance etc and prejudices and fear drive bigotry and hate crimes besides discrimination.

The latest in the line of many “The Others” is China, thanks to the Coronavirus. It is extrememly difficult to determine how much of it is fact and how much just fake news but, the damage is being done.

If we delve deep into our prejudices, we will find enough and more “others” to keep us discussing them till kingdom come. I have just listed a few here to give a pointer to the IDEA of “The Other” as being our number one Common Enemy.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009. This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

My Door Is Open.

My friend Shanker posted the following message on Facebook and I promptly copy pasted the same on my page.

My door is always open. My house is safe. Coffee & Tea can be on in minutes, and my dining room table is a place of peace and non-judgmental. Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime. It’s no good suffering in silence. I have food in the fridge, coffee and tea in the cupboard, and listening ears, shoulders to cry on and words to share. I will always be here…you are always welcome!!

This is an old value that has been lost to technology…a text, face-time or emoji is not the equivalent of making time for those we love or care about!
I promise to sit at the table while we talk…this is a value that we should bring back!! Let’s all bring it back!

Could at least one friend please copy and re-post.

The response has been staggering. I have posted many other messages on Facebook but, I have never seen such responses.  As I write this post, there have been 44 thumb-up and heart emoticons and 19 comments.  Five friends have also copy pasted the post on their pages.

The contents of the message must have resonated very well indeed with many people!

Telephony.

This ‘nostalgia’ forward by a friend on WhatsApp, following my post on Nomophobia, took me back to the time in India when first, they had to advertise to get people to subscribe to the service, then the time when people had to wait for years before they could get a connection and finally the time when cellphone service providers and handset makers are back advertising telephony. A full cycle indeed.

I don’t remember the times when the telephone company advertised for landline connections. We did not have a telephone connection at home till my mid teen years and we were told not to use it unless for emergency purposes. I distinctly remember neighbours pleading to be allowed to not only make calls but, also to receive calls in emergencies. My late wife’s family did not have a phone connection in the early years of our marriage and we would call their neighbour to request someone from there to be called to receive a call after a few minutes. This was when Direct Dialling had been introduced but, prior to that, we used to make person to person calls either from our phone or from post offices. Now, we can not only make direct phone calls, we can video call too using whatsapp! What a change!

Such change however brings with it, its own dangers as well as these two clips show.

Wellbeing.

This is an actual exchange of messages in WhatsApp between a dear friend who has got a full head of hair but, who thinks that I enjoy life despite being blessed with just a friar’s fringe. Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

That exchange got me to suggest this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday blog post when Shackman and I write posts on the same topic. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say about the topic.

“Well-being amounts to more than mere happiness, and involves a wide range of personal and social domains, new research suggests. Psychologists say that positive relationships and a sense of meaning and purpose in life are crucial to genuine well-being.”

~ British Psychological Society (BPS)

Whenever someone asks me if I am happy in my present status of a retired person, I inevitably request him to ask about my wellbeing rather than whether I am happy as happiness is only a small part of wellbeing. I inevitably add that I am flourishing or, that I am on top of the world or some such phrase. I came to the conclusion that I was more than just happy in my situation after I read Martin Seligman’s “Flourish”, which incidentally was gifted to me by a very dear friend who was closely monitoring my mental health when I was going through a particularly stressful period some years ago. Reading the book essentially pointed out to me that my stress was of a passing nature which was being handled well by me. Other than that particular aspect of my life then, my life otherwise was what could be easily called enviable by others.

Seligman’s PERMA is simply this.

Here then is well-being theory: well-being is a construct; and well-being, not happiness, is the topic of positive psychology. Well-being has five measurable elements (PERMA) that count toward it:

Positive emotion (Of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects) – what we feel: pleasure, rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, and the like. An entire life led successfully around this element, I call the “pleasant life.”

Engagement – is about flow: being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity. I refer to a life lived with these aims as the “engaged life.”

Relationships – is about how well we are connected with our family, friends and society.

Meaning and purpose – Meaningful Life consists in belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self, and humanity creates all the positive institutions to allow this: religion, political party, being Green, the Boy Scouts, or the family.

Accomplishment – is the way of reflecting on the attempts of doing something, and the degree in which it provides a positive sense of accomplishment or achievement.

No one element defines well-being, but each contributes to it.

I believe that I am a walking proof for someone who is flourishing as, in all the five elements, I will score high.

Intolerance.

Intolerance is defined as an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own; or an inability to eat a food or take a drug without adverse effects.

Having suggested this topic for this week’s Friday 2 on 1 blog post, I shall address both and perhaps something else as well. Please do visit Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the topic.

Unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own.

Ever since India’s Rightist Hindu Nationalist party, the BJP came to power in 2014, this word became synonymous with the Leftist Intellectuals in India and all kinds of things happened. Minor incidents of law and order took on communal tones like Hindu vs Christian, Hindu vs Muslim and Upper castes vs Lower castes and so on. Some took to mass media to condemn the majoritarianism implied in the result of the elections, some returned awards given to them by the previous dispensation as a means of protest, without however, returning the cash elements that went with those awards and generally made, what in my opinion was fools of themselves.

These were the English speaking, reading, writing urban self appointed intellectuals and their tantrums, simply did not reach the people who were none ot the above. The BJP came back to power last month with an increased majority in our parliament and now one sees the same breed of Tolerant Intellectuals analysing the results and coming to the conclusion that they misread the public mood and orientation. Some of these elements wrote for foreign publications as well crying themselves hoarse that doomsday is about to descend on India. As my readers can see, nothing like that happened and some even changed their tones post analysis of the results.

Being a Rightist supporter of the BJP, I tolerated these elements while they were intolerant of me! Now I am enjoying watching them squirm and the Schadenfreude is entirely enjoyable.

That is the beauty of intolerance. The ones shouting loudest that the other is intolerant is entirely unaware that they are being intolerant of the other to start with! And being completely detached, I simply enjoy trumpeting my own intolerance of the intolerant.

Coming to other types of intolerance, I know some wealthy people, the not so wealthy simply cannot be so, who are intolerant of the elements. During the summer months, they disappear to cooler climes and during the winter months to warmer climes. During the wet months they refuse to get out of their homes lest they get wet and miss out on a lot of fun. These people are also usually intolerant of everything around them and totally insatiable be it about food, drink or relationships.

I also know the unfortunates who are lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant or some other intolerant and I feel sorry for them while being grateful that I am not any of those. On the other hand, I recently discovered that I was allergic to one particular type of new antibiotics and it was entirely providential that I had anti allergy medication at home as otherwise, I would have been dead with the reaction I had after consuming that medication. Now that my doctor, family and I know that I am intolerant to it, hopefully there won’t be a next time.

Intolerance can take other shpes too and one of the most common in India is the mother in law, daughter in law conundrum and / or the older generation, younger generation one. Here again, it is difficult to do anything about it when one comes across it but one can be grateful that one does not go through this in one’s own life.

I am sure that there will be other types that my readers have come across in their experiences and I look forward to receiving comments on them.

The Company Of Great Persons.

We had a house-guest the last two days. He is my son’s friend, and had come to Pune to finalise a place to set up residence. He normally lives in Mumbai and some family related matters has made it an imperative that he shifts to Pune.

During a couple of long sessions of discussions on wide ranging subjects, I learnt some new things from him as he claimed he did from me too. For me, I learn new things from the world of Management every time some one younger comes along and spends some time with me and this one was such an occasion. From my side, I was able to give some information about India’s economy, development and politics to him, information that I have acquired through my reading habits and discussions with a wide circle of friends that I am blessed with.

He left early yesterday morning but, before he left, he came near me, bent down, touched my feet and took my blessings as traditionally Indians are taught to in their childhood. This is a practice that due to Westernisation and urbanisation has more or less disappeared and I was touched by this traditional way of taking leave by this young man. He said that he believed in the Guru Shishya Parampara and considered his time with me as between a teacher and a student and said that he looked forward to more such meeting in the future once he settles down in Pune.

I was touched by this gesture and respect / affection shown by this young man. The experience led me to some reflection on the information that I shared with him and concluded that I am blessed with the association of a number of very smart and erudite people in my life. I called one of them to share this experience and conclusion and he promptly and cheerfully shared this message through WhatsApp!

Company Of Great Persons.

महाजनस्य संसर्गः कस्य नोन्नतिकारकः I

पद्मपत्रस्थितम तोयं धत्ते मुक्ताफलश्रियम II

Mahaajanasya samsargah kasya nonnathikaarakah. 1

Padmapathrasthitham thoyam dhatte muktaaphalashriyam. 2

Company of great persons is always beneficial.

A drop of water on lotus leaf appears like a pearl, thus gaining
a status similar to that of pearl.

This is to thank all those great persons in my life.