The Virtues And Toxicities Of Popularity

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

~ Shakespeare in As You Like It.
No. my intention is not to ring my own bell.
Nor to pat myself on my own back. I have a message about the topic where I am the centre of the action and so, these two pictures.

Fellow Five on One blogger and web-friend Shackman posted this on his facebook page and as he had requested I copy pasted on my page.

“I think most of you know me pretty well, it doesn’t matter when our paths may have crossed. Maybe some of you like me and some don’t, but if you’re on my Facebook, it’s because I like you. I would love to see if we can still chat more than just likes and actually write something to each other. Again, I decided to participate in an experience called “Meeting between bread.” The idea is to see who reads the post without a photo. We are so quick to dive into technology that we forgot the most important thing: good friendship. If no one is reading this message, it will be a short social experiment. But if you finish this to the end, I would love you to comment in ONE WORD about us. For example: a place, an object, a person, a moment in which you remember me. Then copy this text and post it on your page (don’t share) and I’ll go to your page to leave a word that reminds me of you. Please don’t comment if you don’t have time to copy the text. This will destroy the experiment. Let’s see who spent their time to read and respond according to the common story outside of Facebook! Thank you for participating!”

I was overwhelmed with the responses that I received, bar a few, all from my colleagues from my working life. These wonderful people have been in touch with me all these years despite my having retired twenty years ago, thanks to the internet and the social media. It brought to my notice that I have  well-wishers in my life who still have regard for me; and I am reminded of that post and the comments on it as I write this post.

I don’t think that I was or am popular. Popular is for entertainers and sportspersons. Popularity is ephemeral. What I received was pure affection and regard from mates who had worked alongside me thanks to something that was drilled into me during my younger days by mentors who taught me a simple formula to be good in my career. CCDO. Connectedness, Constancy in the connectedness, Dignity in the relationships thus established and Opportunity for growth for both in the relationship.  This is something that I passed on to the people who crossed my path as well.  That it has worked has now been amply proved and I am grateful to those mentors who showed me the way. I repeat, I was not and am not popular. These long lasting relationships are testimony to that fact.

Since this has been my personal experience, I would say that the virtues of popularity are that they are superficial, short-lived and ego boosters. The toxicities of popularity are narcissism and self destruction. I am glad that I was and am not popular. I don’t know what to call what I am and leave it to my readers to decide on a nomenclature.

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 Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Singing.

A friend sent this clip to me with much enthusiasm hoping that this advice will keep me amongst his gang for some more time,

I responded to him with “The problem is that I can’t sing anymore. I croak like a frog.”

In his inevitable style he came back with “24/7 News Channel Reports Breaking News. There are many formats of singing like Qawwwalis, Classical, Jazz, Pop etc. Mr. RR has now introduced Croak Singing which is getting to be very popular in Western India.”

Success.

As it so often happens, two messages on my WhatsApp today leads me to this blog post.

The first message that I received in a group page was this image from a very savvy old colleague who has overcome some big problems and is now perceived to be a success.  Please click on the image to get a larger resolution.

The next one was from another young friend, in his early fifties now employed in Europe in the Financial Sector, with a perceived successful career behind him with more to come in the future. After we exchanged some other information, he came up with the following:

“Been working since 6.30 am. Annual results expected by mid February, with possible layoffs to follow. Hope I get made redundant with a good severance package! Will be happy.

If it happens, would like to use the time to retrain myself to do something more enjoyable and less stressful. Unfortunately, I got a very good rating at my appraisal a few weeks ago, so unlikely.

“Will also tell you someday about how selfish and self obsessed most people in the financial services industry are. Pays well but kills the soul.

I hope that you noticed that he thinks that it is unfortunate that he got a good performance appraisal rating!  Had he been a Millennial, I would have directed him to my blog post written some months ago so that he could identify with the millennials! Since he is not, I shall wait till post results of his employers to come up with another discussion with him.

He was in Pune in December and January and I could sense that he was not very happy with what he was doing but, I did not comment on it except to joke about it calling it his mid life crisis. At that point, I had gone back in my own life and recalled that I had just finished on five year contract with an employer and had retired two years later than I had aspired to. I did not look to be retrained but was enjoying my retired life after many years of travelling and not spending enough time with the family, spending time with my late wife and friends and generally goofing off. A series of events led me back into corporate life again on three separate occasions.

I hope that some such unplanned for “events” will take place in my friend’s life as well and when he is back in India by the end of this year, I will have more interesting topics to talk with him about.

Incidentally, I have consulted some friends to figure out a graphic to describe an iceberg of failures. Once that is ready, I shall post another blog about it.

Real Friends.

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”
~ Bernard Meltzer

I strongly believe that the above definition is the most appropriate to define real friends. I have many friends who fit that description and I list some of them in the order of length of association.  And, let me assure you that I think the same way about them too.

The first one is a friend EG, who now lives in retirement in Mumbai who was a neighbour and my late younger brother’s class mate in Montessori School. He has been a friend now for the proverbial three score and ten years.  I don’t think that he would have continued to be my friend for all these years if I had not been slightly cracked.

The next one is NV, who lives in Chennai who also has been my friend for about seventy years now and still thinks that I am cracked.

The next one QSA too, lives in Mumbai who has been a friend now for fifty five years. He knows that I am cracked but, does not make a big deal of it and simply accepts me as I am and continues to be a great friend.

One more, AH who now lives in laid back retirement in Goa has been a friend for near thirty five years and insists on verifying that I stay cracked everyday by telephone calls. Strangely enough, our friendship started with his coming to check up on me while I was recovering from a surgery in a hospital at the request of another mutual friend and now a days, the two of us are handling many health issues and our discussing those gives us moral support as well as other forms of support at need.

There were some more but, as is logical for someone who is aged well over the national average, they have left this world and must be waiting for me to join them to play golf together in the hereafter. One of them AHK, a neighbour, left just a few days ago after a prolonged illness.

There are many who live now in the same place as I do, Pune who too have accepted me as I am and are great sources of joy and moral support. That almost all of them are alumni from the same Business School adds to the bonding.

My fellow Friday 2 on 1 blogger Shackman has suggested this week’s topic. as Please go over to his blog to see what he has to say about this topic.

9/11.

Yesterday, Saturday the 9th of November 2019 was a very special day for us in India but, for me it also took me to some other events, two, very personal.

For my American readers, 9/11 would immediately bring to mind the WTC plane attack on September 11, 2001. By now, those three numerals in that particular order has become internationally known for that particular event.

For me as an Indian following a different system, 9/11 is the 9th of November. My first tryst with that date was when I was in Frankfurt attending a business meeting on 9/11/1989 when news came on about the Berlin wall being broken down. The meeting was adjourned and we switched on the news channel in the TV set provided in the meeting hall to see the wall coming down much to the joy of all present, and particularly my West German colleagues. The official meeting was recommenced after a while but, the evening celebrations almost made me miss my next morning flight to London.

Yesterday, 9/11/2019 in India was special for two reasons.

First was the judgement that was delivered in a long festering case in our Supreme Court on what is known here as the Ayodhya issue.


The next one was the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor between India and Pakistan.

As if these momentous events were not enough, it was the birthday of a very dear friend who is hard of hearing and I had to convey my greetings to her through her husband who was half asleep recovering from a pre birthday celebrations the previous night.

It was also the wedding anniversary of my God Son who decided to spend it alone while his lovely and more responsible wife spent it with her ailing grandson in a town 45 Kms away. I had to call them separately and insist that the former go over to the latter’s temporary abode to celebrate at my expense.

All in all, a good day.

Success And Failure.


My readers will remember my blog post on how I was not an ambitious person but, events just happened and I became what can be called a success. Before that I was what most members of my extended family and some friends called a failure although I personally was very happy in that state of being. Now as then my attitude towards life itself is best explained by this image.

I therefore have rather unusual feelings about these two words and I hope that with this post I am able to get my thoughts across to my readers.

Before I proceed further, something came my way on ambition and madness that is worth sharing with my readers and here it is.

I was never mad nor am I, I think, now. Perhaps that is why, I am content with my lot which many consider to be the epitome of success. I have a roof over my head, I get all the food that I want to eat, and, I am blessed with great friends and family. I have enough income to afford my daily dose of newspapers and crossword puzzles plus the regular purchase of books to keep me occupied. I have enough to pay the electricity bills to keep my computer and internet connection going 24/7 which enables me to exploit all the advantages that I have enumerated here. I am blessed with a sense of humour that enables me to laugh at the things happening around me and stay cheerful. How much more can one ask for to be successful at the twilight of his life?

If I have failed, that was in taking care of my health in my youth and I am paying the price for it now. On the other hand, I am able to afford the medical attention that my condition demands and that, in my opinion, is also, a measure of my success. I also failed in some relationships but, they are too few to bother about at this stage of my life.

This is my take on the topic suggested by me for this week’s Friday 2 on 1 blog posts where Shackman and I write on the same subject. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say.