My Latest Social Media Correspondent.

She is all of nine years old and when the school reopens will be at the last term of her Fifth standard. She is the daughter of my niece in Hyderabad and since the lockdown, has decided that I am fair game for her smart phone shenanigans.

She is totally adorable and I love the banter and enjoy our exchanges but this post is not about our relationship. It is about this little girl’s dexterity with the phone.

She texts fast and her responses to my messages are in half the time that mine are. She uses emojis widely and never uses a wrong one to convey any particular emotion. She chides me for being slow! And there I was thinking that I am a fast typist!

She recently produced an old photograph of me with some others and asked to point out which was me. Before I could respond, she sent the same photograph back on whatsapp with an arrow superimposed on it pointing to me with just ? in the comments section.

I have been trying to figure out how to do the same thing since then and am still to come up with the technique.

I dread imagining a future full of these children as adults using all technology at lightning speeds and leaving us oldies gasping for breath.

Woman.

As it happens so often in my life,  two different sources sent me two different links to two different you tube offerings but, on the same subject on the same day. The first one is about a mother and the second about a wife.

Both appealed to me and also affected me deeply and I want to share it with my readers. Though both are presented by Indians, their messages are universal and applicable to all mothers and wives. I hope that these two videos touch my readers as much as they touched me.

The first video is by Hari Sankar…a Grandmaster in Chess who has won a slew of awards…at one stage he was in the top 5 or 7 in the world..like Viswanathan Anand, it was his mother who was the motivating force to take up Chess. He is from Andhra Pradesh.  Despite trying to be funny, he manages to convey a profound statement about motherhood and women.

The next one is from an older man who while presenting the poem is quite affected.

Skyscape.

We had a heavy downpour of rain for almost five hours yesterday afternoon. Coming after a dry spell it was very welcome and I quite enjoyed watching it fall in our garden for some time.

Later after it cleared, Ranjan took Koko to the grounds for her evening exercise and took this photograph of the late evening sky.

After a little while, Manjiree went into the garden and found the skyscape attractive and took this snap.

I haven’t seen such skyscapes during the last many monsoons, possibly due to the pollution and one of the collateral benefits of the lockdowns has been such clear air over our city!

Tragic Optimism.

“The man I am, greets mournfully, the man I might have been.”
~ Hebbel

I contacted a Senior Teacher of Vipassana in Pune yesterday, whom I have known since the last more than two decades. He was a highly successful Medical Practitioner as was his wife but, both have quit their practices to devote their full time and energies to Vipassana. I contacted him to find out how best I can attend a camp with my health issues. Being a doctor and a teacher of Vipassana, I thought that he would be the best guide to approach as I felt that I needed a concentrated meditation camp at this stage of my life. He guided me to my full satisfaction and also assured me that he will ensure that I will be well looked after in the local Meditation Center.

It was a nice long chat catching up with each other on many subjects and I intend keeping in regular touch with him henceforth.

After the talk was over, he sent me a photograph taken during the early days of a Vipassana Meditation Center at Markal near Pune with me and two students of meditation in it. The link will take you to show you how the place is now.

This was circa 2003 when it was still in its nascent stage and accommodation and meditation hall were still in early stages of being set up. I was approached by the same teacher to be a volunteer to serve the attendees as by then I was already a caregiver to my incapacitated late wife. In this particular case, they were a group of blind students who had to be looked after, and guided around the primitive undeveloped area so that they did not come to harm and the ten days that I did this changed me for ever.

Spending eleven nights and ten days with blind people and serving them will do that to any body. One is humbled by them with their good cheer and will to survive despite their handicap and their total trust and unconditional affection for me was a high impact emotional experience for me. My caregiving duties only increased and was even doubled after my then 91 year old father came to live with us.  That period till ten years later saw the most stressful times that I have ever experienced and thankfully I was able to withstand and survive those situations due, I have no doubt, to my regular meditation practice.

That experience with the blind students changed my attitude towards life and just about that time was when I first came across Viktor Frankl and his Tragic Optimism. His profound conclusion that I share with my readers below describes my current situation at the age of 77 with health issues.

“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 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.”

Child Is The Father Of Man.

I recently wanted to consult an optometrist in my neighbourhood and sent the following message to him on his WhatsApp page.

“Hari Om. Namaste.

This is R. Rajgopaul, Ranjan’s father.

Please call me when convenient tomorrow morning. Thank you.

Regards.Hari Om. Namaste.

This is R. Rajgopaul, Ranjan’s father.

Please call me when convenient tomorrow morning. Thank you.

Regards.”

There was a time when my son Ranjan had to introduce himself as my son but, now the tables are turned and I have to introduce myself as his father.

Over Confidence.

I have come across some really stupid over confident people in my life as I am sure that most of my readers have too. Over confidence almost always ends up in disasters except on the very rare occasion. I would call myself a confident person not given to taking big risks. I have somehow avoided being overconfident except on very few occasions, three of which I shall discuss in detail here. One almost ended in disaster and two did not.

The first occasion was when I decided that it was no big deal to drive a left hand drive car. (For my American friends, in India we drive on the left side of the road and use right hand drive vehicles.). I almost killed myself and a few others by not having practiced in a traffic less field like I did while learning to drive in a right hand drive car in the first place. That memory still haunts me now and then. That memory also put paid to my hiring cars to drive myself around in Europe and the USA instead undergoing quite some inconvenience using cabs and other public transport vehicles.

The second occasion was when I proposed marriage to U, my friend of eight years. She was my best friend’s sister and her friends were my friends as were mine hers. We did a lot of things together and were very comfortable with each other’s company. I was undergoing internship as a Management Trainee and my employment was not a confirmed one but, on one occasion, something came over me and I suggested that since we were so comfortable with each other, that we should get married. U took a few days to think over the proposal while I went off on a sales tour but, on my return she confirmed that we can and we took a leap of faith into unknown territory for both of us. The marriage had its ups and downs like I suppose all marriages do but, overall, it was a good marriage that lasted all of forty years. So that overconfidence paid off.

The third occasion was when at the peak of a successful career I decided to take a plunge into a new career path and quit an employer after 23 years. Many of my colleagues of that employer who are still in touch with me still cannot understand my, what they call, rashness. I left a large multinational company to work with a small family run company on a short term contract. I knew the family well and that made the decision making fairly simple. My late wife who featured in the last paragraph, supported me on my decision and went through all the ‘butterflies in the stomach’ stages with me in the initial stages. In the end it paid off and I was able to retire comfortably at an age that would not have been possible had I continued in the big firm.

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, PadmumShackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Shackman. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.