Politeness.

I take my readers to my blog post My Friends Are Convinced That I Am Over The Hill.

Finally, Grannymar, who was so nice with her comment there with “Ramana if you are over the hill worry not, we are all here already to welcome you!:D”, has decided that I am after all, over the hill and that there is some plain speaking needed.

In correspondence on another matter, she sent me this very encouraging message.

“Excuse me Mister Ramana Sir! We are ALL younger than you and expect you to lead by example. If however that means getting out of my scratcher at 5 a m to contemplate my navel…. there isn’t a hope!”

I am quoting out of context, but I am sure that all of you get the general drift. Be warned that if you accept my leadership, you will be expected to contemplate your navel at some ungodly hour in the mornings.

Some of you are new to my blog, and so, let me give you some background to the “Mister Ramana Sir.” That too is based on another post that I had written about politeness. You can read all about it here.

It will be of great interest to my newer readers to read all the comments on those two posts which should ideally precede reading the next link that I shall give you.

The Economist has this wonderful article “Politeness: Hi there” which has an interesting passage – “……..what seems to be happening is that formal politeness, at least in spoken and written exchanges, is on the decline, thanks to globalisation (meaning the rise of flat, nuance-less English as a means of international communication), to social changes and to technology. Replacing it is a kind of neutral friendliness, where human encounters take place devoid of the signifiers of emotional and status differences that past generations found so essential.”

This is an interesting observation and one that I am now grappling with Gaelikaa who used to call me Ramanaji, a very respectful address in our part of the world, then she changed it to Ramana Bhai when she became my Rakhi sister. When I pointed out to her that Bhai is usually used to address underworld dons in my part of our country, she switched to BS, till I pointed out to her that I found it rather amusing. This was something I expected from Bikehikebabe and Gail and not her. She of course clarified immediately, that it was shorthand for Bhai Saheb. That is where it rests now. Bhai being brother and Saheb being Sir. I had teased Ashok that it was good that he did not address me as Sir Ramana, but now eagerly await what Gaelikaa will come out next with. Sir Bhai? That will be a fantastic play with words, in these gloabalized world and would give me a great deal of status in our local society.

Times Remembered.

“Favorite people,favorite places,
favorite memories of the past.
These are the joys of a lifetime,
these are the things that last.”
— Henry Van Dyke

A recent event in my life, out of the blue, is the reappearance of Urmeela’s cousin Juno into my life. I have known Juno for as long as I had known Urmeela. Juno emigrated to Europe some decades ago and we have not been touch since then, till we reestablished contact, just a few days ago through the internet. He too blogs and though it is a different kind of blog, I am happy that he too is a blogger.

Juno’s reappearance took me back to the times when his parents were alive and would play host to Urmeela and me. They were the epitome of grace and love for us and would fuss all over us. They lived in an old style Hyderabadi mansion with a central court yard with a fountain in it. Somewhat like this but not quite as elaborate.
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I have spent many afternoons there lazying around and being pampered for being the son in law of the house. Later, Juno’s father would insist on taking me to his club on the lake side and sitting on the lawn on cool evenings, to have a few drinks and have some excellent food for which the club was famous. A completely different kind of life style, laid back, relaxed and enjoyable. Nothing like what I see around me now.

‘Times Remembered” happens only when something triggers them off. Juno reappearing in my life triggered off memories of his parents and other matters of times gone by. Similarly, a proud mother, my childhood friend who married another childhood friend, has just sent me information, that her son Vinod, who is the Chair of the Biophysics Dept, at the University of Twente in Enschede in the Netherlands has written an article in a recently published book by the University. The e book that she has sent has a photograph of Vinod in his current avatar. My memory went back to the time when he was a young boy attending school in Delhi and who impressed me, even then, with his remarkable intelligence. That thought led me to remember the times that Vinod’s parents and we had spent together as grown ups as well as when we were children. The memories also took me to the Sashtiapthapoorthi, sixtieth birthday celebrations, of Vinod’s father Ambi, and Vinod’s wedding, both of which, I was privileged to attend. Sadly, my friend Ambi is no more with us and that is a painful memory that this thought process has triggered.

A few days ago, I received a phone call from a strange number and was quite surprised that it was from an old colleague of mine with who I had worked almost twenty years ago.  He and another ex colleague are now with another employer but were going through some old photographs when they came across some of mine at a social occasion.  That triggered their remembrances and they decided to call me and set up a meeting to see how I am.  They in turn triggered off memories of my times with them, that employer, and the great times that we had when Pune, where we live now was a much slower paced and gentle city.

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The turning the hourglass is the trigger. This is what makes life such an unpredictable journey.

I get inspired about life in general and mine in particular, by going back often to Viktor Frankl. I quote and I hope that you will get inspired too.

“…..the opportunities to act properly, the potentialities to fulfill a meaning, are affected by the irreversibility of our lives. But also the potentialities alone are so affected. For as soon as we have used an opportunity and have actualized a potential meaning, we have done so once and for all. We have rescued it into the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but rather, on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured. To be sure, people tend to see only the stubble field of transitoriness but overlook and forget the full granaries of the past into which they brought the harvest of their lives: the deeds done, the loves loved, and last but not least, the sufferings they have gone through with courage and dignity.

From this one may see that there is no reason to pity old people. Instead, young people should envy them. It is true that the old have no opportunities, no possibilities in the future. But they have more than that. Instead of possibilities in the future, they have realities in the past – the potentialities that they have actualized, the meanings they have fulfilled, the values they have realized – and nothing and nobody can ever remove these assets from the past.”

Viktor E Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning.

This post is the Loose Consortium Bloggers’ Friday post when Ashok, Conrad, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria, Gaelikaa, Helen, Judy, Anu and Ginger write on the same topic.  Please do visit the other blogs to taste the different flavours.

Euthanasia.

Today’s newspaper frontpages an interesting and very disturbing story.  It is disturbing, because, a human being has been kept alive in a vegetative state by modern medical means. The Times of India and the BBC both have reported about the matter going to our Supreme Court.

What hurts me as an individual is the question the Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court ask – ‘‘Is this plea not akin to euthanasia?’’ The lawyers to the petitioner have answered that question more than admirably, but what intrigues me is the negative connotation given to euthanasia.

This is a hotly debated topic and for those interested, this link gives extensive cover of the material available.

My stand on the issue is clear. I have instructed Ranjan that if I ever am in a condition where I am unable to decide on what needs to be done with me, he should a, see that I do not go into t a hospital, and b, if I am already in a hospital, refuse to accede to requests to put me on a ventilator, or other similar gadgets.

Life with dignity is more important to me than satisfying some emotional hang ups of others. I have asked for the law on euthanasia to be changed whenever I had opportunities to interact with our law makers, but our law makers do not believe that they have been elected to do anything about our laws.

I hope that my stand is controversial enough to generate some lively discussions as I am sure that there must be readers from both sides of the debate. I look forward to some other opinions.

Let Me Tell You About My Weekend.

An elderly, white-haired man walked into a jewellery store one Friday evening with a beautiful young blonde at his side.

He told the jeweller he was looking for a special ring for his girlfriend. The jeweller looked through his stock and brought out a $5,000 ring. The old man said, “No, I’d like to see something more special.” The jeweller went to his special stock and brought another ring over. “Here’s a stunning ring at only $250,000,” he said.

The young lady’s eyes sparkled and her whole body trembled with excitement. The old man seeing this said, “We’ll take it.”

The jeweller asked how payment would be made and the old man stated, “By cheque. I know you need to make sure my cheque clears so I’ll write it now, and you can call the bank on Monday morning to verify the funds and I’ll pick the ring up on Monday afternoon,” he said.

On Monday morning, the jeweller ‘phoned the old man and said “Sir, there’s no money in that account.” “I know,” said the old man, “but let me tell you about my weekend!”

I am elderly, what little hair I have on my head and the beard that I keep are both white. That is possibly why my nephew Simon has sent this story to me. He is likely to be disappointed that I never did get an opportunity to do something as dramatic as the guy in the story, which I could reproduce here as part of my eventful past. At my age, it is hard enough to remember things that happened yesterday!

The most recent weekend that I remember very well is the visit last weekend, of my nephew, niece in law, and their two lovely little daughters. One three years old and the other just seven months old. You can see what a weekend I had.

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The three young ladies and the inimitable nephew, left me, my father and Ranjan feeling lost for the next three days.  Si, that is how your Periappa spends his week ends when possible.  Saves a lot of money that way!

Farewell Flamer.

Serendipity plays a great role in my life. The following joke could not have come to me at a better time. I am indebted to my friend from the land of milk and honey, who loves to rib me about Indians. This story however is about the Red variety.

An Indian picks up a hooker. ‘How much do you charge for da hour, sister?’ he asks.
‘$100,’ she replies.
He says ‘Do you do Indian style?’
‘No’ she says.
‘ I pay you $200 to do it Indian style’
‘No’, she says, not knowing what Indian style is.
‘I pay you $300’
‘No’, she says.
‘I pay you $400’
‘No’, she says.
So finally he says, ‘OK, I pay you $1,000 to do it Indian style.’
She thinks, ‘Well, I’ve been in the game for over 10 years now. I’ve had every kind of request from weirdos from every part of the world.
How bad could Indian Style be?”.
So she agrees and has sex with him. They do it in every kind of way and in every possible position.
Finally, after several hours, they finish. Exhausted, the hooker turns to him and says, ‘Hey, I was expecting something perverted and disgusting. But that was good. So what exactly is ‘Indian style’?’

The Indian replies ‘You send bill to Government’

I am an Indian. The original Brown variety. For me, a sister, blood or rakhi, is a very different relationship. I am conditioned by my culture, religion and traditions to treat a sister differently. I am not constrained by any psychoanalysis and have no time for such inane pursuits. Nor do I believe that I need such analysis. I am very comfortable with myself and the way I am.

With that story, and my little footnote to it, this is to formally bid goodbye to a flamer who has misused the hospitality of my blog. The comment that the flamer has left in my post is being suitably responded to.

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Gaelikaa Adopts Me As Her Brother.

I am indebted to Maria of Sliver Fox Whispers and Gaelikaa for the inspiration for this post.

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In her response to my observation on my post on Flames, Maria the Silver Fox mariawrote -“Well, I went from your blog to Magpie and I found myself enthralled with metal compounds and fireworks. Then I thought, “Ramana needs to know it is not just about a flame, but it is also all about the fireworks!” I have to laugh because I write to you as comfortably as I write to my own brother.”

I responded -“I am flattered. In India, we have a system of women adopting men as their brothers by a simple ceremony of tying a string around the wrist of the men. The men then are obliged to protect and pamper the adopted sister! Have a look:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakhi_day”

Maria the Gaelikaa Gaelikaa04-18-09_1703 responded – “That is a great idea Ramana Bhai. I shall tie a rakhi on you when we meet (whenever that may be).”

Now the problem is, that somewhere along the way in this exchange, our two Marias have got mixed up!

When I read the Ramana Bhai, I knew that we have got our Gaelikaa, aka Maria responding. I don’t mind having two Marias tying rakhis on my wrists, but, I do not want either getting confused about the other as I was for a while.

To get back to the business at hand, we have a festival in India called the Raksha Bandhan. Let experts write about it and, here is a link to one blog which explains it quite well.

Our son Ranjan has a much cherished Rakhi Sister, Zainab. She was his classmate in college and made him her Rakhi Brother. The two of them are a treat to watch when they are together. In due course, I shall post a blog about Zainab to express my admiration for a remarkable young lady who has achieved a great deal under very difficult circumstances.

When we moved into our brand new home in Pune in 1990, our neighborhood was sparcely populated. The complex to which we moved into, gradually got other residents and one of them was the Soans family consisting of Roaslyn the matriarch, her son Lubin a Merchant Marine Officer, his wife Susan, and their two kids Arup and Amrisha. Rosalyn was the classic Matriarch with a background of a life time of teaching children in Bombay. After a couple of years of getting to know each other, I used to be away from home more than at home duing that period, one fine evening, she brought a Rakhi, tied it on my wrist and said, I am making you my brother from now on. Apart from my real life sister, I had never been extended this privilege and to say that I was zapped is an understatement. This resulted in some delicate maneuvering because, Lubin, his sister and her family, Susan and her siblings and parents etc were all calling me by my first name by then and now the realtionship suddenly changed. Lubin and Susan particularly had to start calling me Mamaji, something that our Gaelikaa would understand. In the event, I allowed the gang to continue calling me by my first name.

Rosalyn gave us undiluted love till she passed away in 2003. Whenever she went for a walk, on her return, she would drop in and spend some time with us or more often with Urmeela. Any time some special dish was cooked in their home, it would find its way to our place as well. I do not know whether I gave her the brother she looked for but the bond was quite strong and the bond with her offspring and other members of her family continues to be so, even today.

My sister Padmini sends her three brothers Rakhi every year without fail from wherever she is. Ranjan’s cousins do so for him every year too. It is a great and indescribable tradition that is still alive and kicking even in these days of modernization and hurried life styles. One of the few that is still strong in an otherwise rapidly changing world around us.

Gaelikaa, welcome aboard. You can do the ceremony by snail mail! I promise to tie it around my wrist and shall send you my protection and pampering over the net till we meet and we can do it all in person.

Ramanaji has now become Ramana Bhai. In our part of the world, Bhai has taken on a new connotation! It is used for an Underworld Don! Please be advised that I cannot extend that kind of protection to you! I do not have a “Circuit” to assist me.