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.

Life And Death.

I had couple of friends visiting me some days ago and we had discussions on a wide range of subjects. Both are part of a group to which I too belong, which has monthly meetings where such discussions take place and, it was not unusual that it happened again.

One of the friends unfortunately has recently been having morbid thoughts. He is four years older than I am and has seen much suffering in his life despite having had a successful academic life. He has been exploring various avenues of living in some kind of seclusion in some old peoples’ home.

Among the issues that have been agitating him is the concept of  “Right To Die”.  He has lately been studying cases of euthanasia and has been wanting to carry out research on the subject among senior citizens of India.

He lives alone except to spend every Sunday with his only son, daughter in love and grandson. My other friend and I believe that his recent bouts with health issues like high blood pressure and insomnia has brought him to some morbid thinking. That is the reason he brought this topic up again to discuss and I was a bit impatient with him as, we had discussed this topic a number of times before and had concluded that he should seek help rather than live with some morbid thoughts of euthanasia.

I finally had had enough and told him that though I had come across many people from all walks of life with fear of death;  he is the first and only one that I have come across with a fear of life.  I bluntly asked him as to why he was afraid to live the full life allotted to him and enjoy it to the best of his ability.

He was taken aback but, quickly recovered and said that, that was the problem indeed. He was afraid to live the way he was living and would rather not. That insight has changed his attitude somewhat as he called me up earlier today to thank me for the insight. I again suggested that he seek psychiatric help and he has agreed finally to do that.

Retirement.

Two triggers came to me on the same day which made me suggest this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday post. Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same topic.

The first was this cartoon in one of the daily newspapers that I read every day.

Luckily for me, I did not have a son like Calvin to make me surly during my working days and in any case, those days were not like what they are today.  We did not have to spend so much time commuting to and from work nor were we under the kind of pressures that today’s employees face in work situations.

The other was a WhatsApp message sending me this link to a post on Facebook.

Again, luckily for me, my old friends continue to be my friends and though the number is reducing there are still enough to keep my mind occupied with them as well as in reminiscing about the good old days.

Having started my working career at an unusual age of 16, by the time I had reached my mid forties, I had decided that I should retire by the age of fifty. This was so that I could see a lot of India and some parts of the world accompanied by my wife. For various reasons I was unable to retire at that age but was able to at the age of 52. Not bad, I thought but, life had other plans. Again due to various reasons, I was unable to implement the plan to travel and so was sort of drifting around when life intervened again and pulled be back into corporate life on three different occasions. I finally retired from corporate life at the age of 62. I did have some gaps between assignments during which I also underwent two major surgeries and tackled some major domestic issues.

For the past 14 years, I have lived a life of a retired old reprobate as so affectionately termed by my dear brother. I have not had any retirement blues as many of my friends have had though I did go through some difficult times being a full time care giver on two occasions since the retirement.

My retired life revolves around a lot of reading and a daily dose of solving crossword puzzles. This blissful existence is interspersed with reunions of various kinds about which I have blogged elsewhere, meetings with like minded reprobates in Pune where I live and visits to or from friends and family.

I am one of those blessed seniors who still has company at home in the form of his son and daughter in love plus two very affectionate dogs. To add spice to the life, two alley cats have also decided to adopt us and keep visiting us to ask for snacks at frequent intervals. Hardly ever a dull moment!

It helps that social media like Facebook and WhatsApp have brought many friends and family closer to me and so, I do not find myself at loose ends ever. The only exceptions are when due to public holidays, I do not get my daily dose of news papers and crossword puzzles when I have to depend on additional reading to pass the morning hours.

What Did You Gain Or Lose By Taking A Risk?

I am not much of a risk taker, or, more accurately, there were not many instances when I had to take risks. I can think of three major risks that I took about all of which I have written separately in my earlier blogs but this is a summary of the three to address this week’s 2 on 1 weekly Friday blog post where my consort Shackman and I write on the same subject. This week’s topic has been suggested by Shackman who has just taken a big decision about which I am sure he will write this week. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say.

The first risk that I took in my life was when I was all of 22 when I decided to quit my well settled job and life in Chennai to go to Business School for a two year course. I was more or less constrained to take the risk as I had to handle some ticklish personal issues in Chennai and prudence suggested that I remove myself from the scene for a while. I took the risk and the rest as it is said, is history.

Business School, a novel concept in India at that time, resulted in my being recruited off campus by a multinational company where I spent the next twenty three years in a successful career. While I lost the carefree lifestyle of a bachelor by going to the BS, I gained a great career and made many friends, many of whom are still part of my life.

The next big risk that I took was three years later when I was 25. It was a deliberate one of asking my late wife who was till then a friend, to marry me. I lost my bachelor status but gained a partner for the next forty years plus all that marriage brought along with it including a great son.

The third big risk that I took was to quit my employer of 23 years to seek my fortune elsewhere. I took that decision as I knew that I would be uncomfortable with the future direction that the company took and in retrospect, all that I had foreseen took place and I have no regrets whatsoever. Taking that risk exposed me to four other experiences of differing types and those experiences were priceless. Here too, I gained in stature and made many friends some of whom are still very much part of my life.

By taking those three big decisions, I did not lose much but, gained a great deal and the gains are still working for me in my retired life. I have no regrets.