Unforeseen Circumstances.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria the Silver Fox, Padmum , Rohit, Will knot, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get thirteen different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by gaelikaa.

“It’s true that we don’t know what we’ve got until we lose it, but it’s also true that we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives.”
~ Unknown Author

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Unforeseen circumstances happen because we project our current state of mind to the future, without taking into account all possibilities that are likely to influence the future. For instance, when I was planning for my retirement, possibilities of illness and care-giving responsibilities were never in my wildest dreams. Actual retirement therefore, became unforeseen circumstances for me ten years ago, and during all the ten years, I have continued to believe in the beauty of my dreams and know that they will come true. I have however factored in unforeseen developments to throw a few spanners in the works and am prepared to face the unforeseen developments too.

That is wisdom by hindsight. Unfortunately, I keep coming across people who keep on imagining futures full of joy and happiness based on their current situations and imagining that when the current situation changes to what the future promises or is hoped for, to be, they will be in Valhalla. When that does not happen, disappointment sets in and whymeitis sets in. The frequency with which I come across, “if only” predictions remain precisely that, wishful thinking.

For instance, I just met a newly married young lady who went against the wishes of her parents to marry a colleague, only to find the man an unpleasant oaf in the mornings, and to add insult to her injury has changed his mind about finding a place of their own and insists on staying with his parents. From all accounts, perhaps one sided, but all that I am privy to, the mother in law is a termagant. I doubt that the couple will see their first wedding anniversary. Was it really unforeseen? Could the very troublesome situation have been avoided by some careful investigations prior to the marriage?

Unforeseen circumstances are so, precisely because they were unforeseen. If only we can visualize the future with some built in variations, our disappointments will be that much less. But I am afraid, human beings are not programmed that way. And, there is also the high improbabilities of forecasts coming true one hundred percent; and we never seem to learn from such failures to forecast accurately. This too is a peculiar human condition and I am not an expert to comment on why this is so, but am just making an observation.

I think that I would rather be like Bruce Lee who said – “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

And look what happened to him! He died at the age of 32, at the peak of his career and popularity. The official cause of death was acute cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) brought about by a hypersensitivity to aspirin. Bruce’s brain was found to have swollen from a normal 1,400 grams to a lethal 1,575 grams.

I Aint Flying No More!

My friend Chuck will be delighted with my decision. He always said that if God had wanted him to fly, He would have given Chuck wings.

Here are two articles. The first one is from my glorious mother land, where something like this is shrugged off, though I personally know of a case where a retired fighter pilot from the Indian Air Force, who fought and survived, died in a civilian air crash when he was traveling as a fare paying passenger.

The second one is more intriguing. Particularly, after 9/11 with so many security agencies set up in the USA, this can happen. Read on.

Why should it bother me? Indians are argumentative. They will use anything to twist around to their own way of thinking or whining. In a recent television panel interview, some Indian celebrities were discussing the Mumbai serial blasts and some consensus emerged that India must emulate the USA after 9/11. That comment has gone viral in India and everywhere one hears that the USA has not had a terrorist attack post 9/11 and why the Indian leadership is unable to give the same to India in general and Mumbai in particular. If you have some time, and really care, here is an article which shows how argumentative we really are and how anything can be twisted to suit the purpose of the writer.

Chuck, this must be music to your ears, I ain’t flying no more.

Indians Abroad.

I came across this article about the Indian diaspora which also includes some comments about the current state of affairs within India.

Karma, fate or whatever, has a role to play in the lives of nations as much as individuals. Many of the fore-runners of the “educated” Indians that emigrated, belong to my generation. This post is to give a picture of those days as seen from inside the country.

The sixties were the time when the IITs and other higher education institutions were churning out engineers, scientists and doctors but the infrastructure could not provide opportunities for either advanced education or employment within a rigid socialist pattern of governance.

Even the young people coming out of these institutions of higher education were products of the privileged political or bureaucratic class which had a strangle hold on good quality primary education compared to the facilities available for the ordinary citizens. Special schools were set up for children of government/defense employees on the pretext that the parents were subject to transfers and the children needed to be provided with consistent education. These parents also had special allowances to educate the children, denied to the tax paying ordinary citizens.

The other kind of education available was mostly through religious missionary institutions, of one of which, I am a product. Here the cost of education was quite high and few non government employees could afford such education for their children. Despite that, many did succeed in India and they stayed behind and are part of the back bone of today’s India’s strengths. We now see a reversal of brain drain taking place with diaspora beginning to return to India.

Today’s India is a very different one to that of my generation. There is however much more to be done and the media, industry and various think tanks are pressurising our government to speed up the completion of our reform process. There are encouraging signals coming from Delhi and the next tranche of measures are expected shortly.

If that goes through, the trickle of returning diaspora is likely to become a flood and some very interesting things are likely to happen. To start with, I expect to see some drop in local remunerations for technology employees. Some impact on real estate prices can also take place mostly upward.

What I dread most is the increase in the number of vehicles on our roads! And dare I say, some confusion on the roads as we drive on the left side of our roads.

Mula-Mutha River.

We live across the river Mula-Mutha from the main city of Pune and use two bridges to cross the river. I had occasion to cross both the bridges today and was able to take two photographs of the river when there was a break in the rain. Both the photographs were taken form the car as parking is not allowed on the bridges.

The first one is the bridge on the Western side of the city called the Yerwada bridge. My regular readers will already know how famous Yerwada is!

The next photograph is of the Koregaon Park Bridge which is to the East of where we live. You can see our township to the right of the river.

When the dams upriver overflow, water is let downstream and the whole bed is covered with flowing water. The rocks and reclamation that you can see on the right will be completely submerged. If you click to enlarge the photograph, you can see the Yerwada bridge in the far distance.

Snobbery In Clubs.

I recently came across an interesting article in the NYT about dress codes in some New York clubs.

This led me to remember another very interesting incident in India at the Calcutta club about which my favourite news paper reported under the heading “Days Of The Raj?”

To get the full flavour of this post, please do read the two articles in depth.

The two articles talk about two different types of clubs. The former are the night clubs whose sole purpose is to provide entertainment, drink and food for their clients. The latter epitomises the social clubs which offer much more like sports and games, gyms, functions, gathering place etc.

I am a member of three clubs in India and have resigned from one very old club membership as all the three clubs that I am a member of have reciprocal arrangements with it. In two clubs I have already earned the qualification of life member and annual fees have been exempted on that score. In the other, I should hopefully be earning that distinction in the near future. I am therefore eminently qualified to write on this subject.

My home club, the Poona club the pavilion of which isfeatured above is 125 years old, with a rich history. It is a vibrant club with a great deal of activities and membership is now extremely difficult to obtain, as the infrastructure is already groaning to provide service and facilities for its members. I am a member but very inactive for the past many years but intend to change that in the near future. On the odd occasion I use the facilities to meet with people who come from the other side of the city, as the club is located in the center of the city, I make resolutions to visit more often, but laziness overwhelms me.

Many older clubs of other cities in India, like the Poona Club, are in a similar situation and with increasing population, newer clubs are sprouting in all towns and cities of India providing similar facilities. Many are better equipped and more modern, but old timers like me still feel more comfortable in the older stodgy clubs.

Apart from a very few, like the Calcutta club featured above and possibly the Madras Club, now have dress codes, though there was a time when almost all of them had. Now, if dress codes are imposed, members will simply stay away! So, the snobbery that is the thrust of the two articles linked above, is really not there. It however exists in different ways. Members of the older colonial clubs and their rival clubs started by Indians, tend to look down on the parvenu clubs and their members! Employees of the former also consider themselves to be superior! Very interesting conversations can take place when members of the older clubs meet up with members of the newer parvenu clubs and the clubs are compared with each other! I have been involved in a few, mostly as a bemused observer with little to contribute.

I am looking forward to visiting another very old Poona based club, which is just short of being 100 years old, The Deccan Gymkhana, this coming Saturday, when I attend our alumni association’s local chapter meeting that has been arranged there. I have lived in Pune the last 21 years, but have never visited that club. Shameful really.

To end this post, an interesting exchange between Big John and me in his post “It’s my turn to wear the blue sash” is worth a read. Please do read his post and all the comments in there to get a flavour of the Raj and its relics. You may even come to understand the peculiar relationship that India and Britain share.