Courage.

My earliest memory of being courageous is that of my overcoming fear of diving off a high diving board in a swimming pool. I learnt to swim in this very pool shown above in Chennai. I would have been all of eleven years old then. After having learnt to swim, the next step was to learn how to dive. First from the sides of the pool and then from the lower boards of the diving board and then came the most scary of them all the high board.

I can assure you that it was almost like Mr. Bean’s experience when I first went up the steps and saw the water below for the first time. It took a great deal of courage to overcome the fear and take that plunge which I eventually managed to. The next one and the next ones were pieces of cake.

The next challenge came when I went to a swimming pool with a higher diving board.

It was Mr. Bean time all over again but eventually I did overcome the fear and dived and need I say, history repeated itself after that.

It took me other experiences to teach me that being courageous is a one off experience. Once you have overcome the first fear you are off and running. My other experiences were, overcoming stage fright in school drama, asking a girl for a kiss, asking a girl out on a date, asking a girl to go steady, proposing marriage though, no sequel to it, quitting a happy life style to go to Business School, quitting a job after 23 years of service to seek fresh opportunities, going in for hip replacement surgery and so on.

Here I pause to share with my readers one exception to my observation.  In our North Eastern States, travel between two towns is usually by shared taxis and the favourite vehicle in those days used as taxis was Jonga. These were usually driven by daredevils who wanted to take on the likes of Sterling Moss of those days. Their speciality was in taking mountain bends and hairpin bends at speeds in excess of 60 KPH much to the discomfort of passengers like me. The locals were quite accustomed to such death defying driving but, I had to endure it during my travelling days there and I had to use them always with a prayer in my lips. I am convinced that if I am here to write this post, it is God’s grace and my good karmas.

There have also been foolish decisions that eventually proved that the experience should not be repeated but, the first one had to be taken as an act of courage.

My conclusion is that the first time you have to be courageous is the tough one. The same experiences to be repeated are not acts of courage but routine.

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

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.

Arguments.

discussion
/dɪˈskʌʃ(ə)n/

noun
the action or process of talking about something in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.
“the committee acts as a forum for discussion”
a conversation or debate about a specific topic.
plural noun: discussions
“discussions about environmental improvement”

debate
/dɪˈbeɪt/

noun
a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.
“last night’s debate on the Education Bill”

conversation
/kɒnvəˈseɪʃ(ə)n/

noun
a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged.
“she picked up the phone and held a conversation in French”

argument
/ˈɑːɡjʊm(ə)nt/

1.
an exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one.
“I’ve had an argument with my father”

2.
a reason or set of reasons given in support of an idea, action or theory.
“there is a strong argument for submitting a formal appeal”

I would rather have one of the first three than the last. By nature I have been made like that and I have always been like that.  Now that I am a Senior Citizen, I am forgiven for being like that.

I came up with this topic for this week’s Two On One Friday blog post where Shackman and I post on the same topic. Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the topic.

Courtesies.


As my readers know, I am a newspaper addict and I wait for my dose of them every morning with bated breath. As soon as I hear the newspaper boy drop them outside the door to our flat, I stop doing whatever I am doing to go over, open the door and retrieve them.

A little explanation. We have two doors to our flat, one solid wooden inside and a screen mesh one outside. We had installed the outside one as an added protection when we first moved in here almost thirty years ago as, then our neighbourhood was in the boondocks and still being developed. The problem with the outside screen door is that it opens out to the landing from where the stair case to go up to the first and second floor flats start.

After the newspapers are dropped off outside our door, the young man charges upstairs to both the floors to drop off papers for the four flats there. On his return, often it happens that I have to wait for him to pass before I can fully open the outside door so that it does not hamper his exit. When he sees this, he inevitably bends down, picks up the papers from the floor dusts them off and hands them over to me with a cheerful “good morning” and when I thank him, with a “you are welcome” and pushes off.

This morning, he went one step further. He must have seen me sitting in our veranda having my morning mug of tea and so decided to come over to the outside of the veranda and handed over the papers to me through the grill. I was overwhelmed. He is not on my payroll nor do we have a relationship other than the morning greetings whenever we meet each other.

Remarkable, in these times of break neck speed and hurry to spare such thoughts and extend a small but meaningful courtesy to a senior citizen. All that I could do was to mentally give him my blessings for his thoughtfulness. May his tribe increase.

That exchange led me to dig out this clip by Simon Sinek to look at the real world.  This morning was my porcelain cup for just the reason that I am a senior citizen!

Satisfaction.

This post has been inspired by a story narrated by a character in a fascinating book about Banaras, or Varanasi as it is now known.

“After breakfast I go go my shop. It is a grocery shop run by my two sons,. The oldest and the youngest. I have three sons. The one in the middle is a lawyer. Our financial troubles are behind us now, I am a happy man. But I was a happy even during the difficult days because I was always satisfied with whatever little I had. I never asked anyone for favours. Satisfaction is the most important thing in life. If you have satisfaction, you have everything.”

This character is a man that the author meets in an akhara. He is a retired old man who had come up the hard way as many characters in the book do. Like him, the others in the book too come across as satisfied people who enjoy living in Banaras and the author goes on to say this finding of his too.

“That’s my takeaway message from this trip to Banaras: satisfaction is everything. All these days I was rubbing shoulders with sadhus on the ghats, but finally, on the day of my departure, I have come across a sage, that too in a gym.”

Varanasi has always fascinated me and I have written one story about my own experience there in one of my blogs. I have also reviewed a film Masan a story located in Varanasi, in my blog.

While the author  Bishwanath Gosh, was impressed by the Banarasi’s satisfaction quotient, I think that he has missed out on the macro picture of the satisfaction levels of most Indians.  Having travelled across the length and breadth of this country during my working days, and a garulous one easily chatting with strangers, I can vouch for the fact that it is a remarkable attitude of most Indians to be satisfied with their lot in life.  For instance, I am sure that it does not come as a surprise to my readers, I for one am a very satisfied person.  I do not envy others more wealthy or healthy as, I am quite content with what I have and what I have become.  Almost all of my friends and family members are like me and many foreigners have observed this trait and commented negatively as being stoic or unambitious.  I think that Bishwanath Ghosh has found the correct description of this trait as being satisfied with one’s lot.

I think that this is what the great American sports personality meant when he said:

“The measure of who we are is,  what we do with what we have.”

~ Vince Lombardi.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about this same topic.