Learning In The 21st Century.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”

~ Alvin Toffler

I love to learn new things and also am today forced to unlearn many things due to the very rapidly changing and unpredictable ways of the 21st Century. The Covid Pandemic has also ensured that one is restricted in one’s movements, forcing one to find ways to amuse /occupy oneself and this too leads to unlearning and learning new things.

I have blogged about many instances of my learning new things and here is one of those posts to lighten up the mood here.  My readers will also recollect  my earlier post where I learnt about pupcakes.

Today, when I came across the Alvin Toffler quote with which I have started this post, I had just unlearned that my old way of using my new cellphone will not work and I had to learn the new and correct way to use it for one particular application. I had just finished that activity when I had to learn how to use my cellphone’s banking application to do something new that I had never done before.

I think that most of us are like me unlearning and learning new things and the most important thing that we are learning constantly is that there is absolutely no use resisting change that is all the time overtaking us.

Would you agree?

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.


This is an actual exchange of messages in WhatsApp between a dear friend who has got a full head of hair but, who thinks that I enjoy life despite being blessed with just a friar’s fringe. Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

That exchange got me to suggest this topic for this week’s 2 on 1 Friday blog post when Shackman and I write posts on the same topic. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say about the topic.

“Well-being amounts to more than mere happiness, and involves a wide range of personal and social domains, new research suggests. Psychologists say that positive relationships and a sense of meaning and purpose in life are crucial to genuine well-being.”

~ British Psychological Society (BPS)

Whenever someone asks me if I am happy in my present status of a retired person, I inevitably request him to ask about my wellbeing rather than whether I am happy as happiness is only a small part of wellbeing. I inevitably add that I am flourishing or, that I am on top of the world or some such phrase. I came to the conclusion that I was more than just happy in my situation after I read Martin Seligman’s “Flourish”, which incidentally was gifted to me by a very dear friend who was closely monitoring my mental health when I was going through a particularly stressful period some years ago. Reading the book essentially pointed out to me that my stress was of a passing nature which was being handled well by me. Other than that particular aspect of my life then, my life otherwise was what could be easily called enviable by others.

Seligman’s PERMA is simply this.

Here then is well-being theory: well-being is a construct; and well-being, not happiness, is the topic of positive psychology. Well-being has five measurable elements (PERMA) that count toward it:

Positive emotion (Of which happiness and life satisfaction are all aspects) – what we feel: pleasure, rapture, ecstasy, warmth, comfort, and the like. An entire life led successfully around this element, I call the “pleasant life.”

Engagement – is about flow: being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity. I refer to a life lived with these aims as the “engaged life.”

Relationships – is about how well we are connected with our family, friends and society.

Meaning and purpose – Meaningful Life consists in belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self, and humanity creates all the positive institutions to allow this: religion, political party, being Green, the Boy Scouts, or the family.

Accomplishment – is the way of reflecting on the attempts of doing something, and the degree in which it provides a positive sense of accomplishment or achievement.

No one element defines well-being, but each contributes to it.

I believe that I am a walking proof for someone who is flourishing as, in all the five elements, I will score high.

Déjà Vu.

Déjà vu refers to the feeling that you have already experienced your present situation. While it is a fairly common experience for many others, for some strange reason, I have not had that kind of experiences other than just a few times.

The first time that I experienced déjà vu was way back in the mid seventies when I had gone to North Kerala on a business tour. I spent a night at a Dak Bungalow which was located on a cliff top adjacent to the Arabian Sea. One could not go down to the shore directly from there but one could hear the sound of waves crashing on the boulders strewn below the cliff. This was the background music to my experience. It was a moonlit night and my local Agent, our local Sales Representative and I were on the lawn having our evening pre dinner drinks when an elderly gentleman came up to me to enquire if I was interested in buying some real estate nearby. It occurred to me then that I had experienced this exactly same experience in exactly the same place before. I had however not been to the town ever before, at least, not in this life time. I mentioned this to my companions for the evening who in turn shared their experiences of déjà vu. Their stories were fascinating to me for the reason that I had none other to share with them.

The next time was a decade later when I visited the Amer Fort in Rajasthan on holiday. It was not restricted to just one experience however and during all the three occasions that I went there I experienced the feeling that I had been in the fort before with vague uneasy feelings of dread.  Perhaps in a previous birth I was a soldier defending the fort!

Other than these experiences, I have never experienced déjà vu as defined above. I have tried to understand the phenomenon through google search but am unable to come to any conclusions about my specific experiences. I have certainly had the attentional varieties which focus on attention. The basis of these theories is that a scene is briefly witnessed without full attention being given. Then, shortly after, the same scene is perceived again, but this time with full perception. The second perception matches the first and is accidentally assumed to be older than it truly is, thereby triggering déjà vu. It is like trying to unlock the front door mechanically and being distracted by some activity on the road and returning to unlock again when it occurs as though one had done this before.

On discussing this with some friends, I found that I could possibly get some information about the Rajasthan episodes from a Past Life Regression Counsellor. I haven’t however found the necessity to go to one. Not as yet anyway!

An interesting topic thought up by my co 2 on 1 Friday blogger Shackman. Please do go over to his blog and see what he has to say on the subject.

Genetic Modification.

My 2 on 1 fellow blogger Shackman can come up with curve balls, knuckle balls and what in cricket is called no-balls when he suggests topics for our weekly Friday blog posts. Today’s is one of of those.

As my readers know, I am a languid observer of the world’s peccadilloes and not very savvy when it comes to matters scientific. I have been reading about Genetic Modification on and off as it is a highly controversial subject in Indian Agriculture. Since I am not a farmer or a teacher or even a scientist, I have not particularly paid any attention to the matter.

As it often happens in my life, yesterday I came across a news item that followed almost immediately Shackman’s mail to me announcing the topic.

I found the latter intriguing enough and the former challenging enough to try and learn something about the subject so that I can write something sensible in this post and here is my take.

I am a close observer of my children’s involvement with animal welfare, particularly dogs. They are very active in rescues, sterilisation, vaccination etc and also regularly hold adoption camps. Among the significant findings that they have come across is a unique phenomenon among animals. Native breeds or rather mongrels have hardly any illnesses plaguing them whereas the pure breeds bought locally from breeders or imported by pet owners at astronomical sums, do. The former are sturdy, live longer and require less care and maintenance than the latter do.

My farmer friend about whom I have written elsewhere, on consultation also concurs that the same holds true for food crops too. Organic farming practiced diligently produces high quality crop though the yields are smaller than the GM crops. The food made from the former is also healthier than those made from the latter, usually subject to chemical fertilisers,insecticides and pesticides.  On the other hand he has met great success with GM cotton which gave him bumper crops and great returns.

He adds that GM is mired in controversies due to foreign hands being suspected of generating funds for purposes other than prosperous agriculture.

Having gathered enough material, I think that my vote is against GM.  Though I have stated my negative vote, I have not been aggressively promoting or even buying organic food,  though if it is available readily during my shopping, I choose it.

Shortly stated, I am still at the ‘couldn’t be bothered’ stage in this matter.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the topic. Thank you.

If More Politicians Listened To Scientists Would The World Be A Safer Place?

Welcome to the weekly 2 on 1 blog post that Shackman and I write every Friday. Today’s topic has been chosen by Shackman who is more optimistic than I thought him to be on politicians. Please do go over to his blog to see what he has to say on the topic.

I have no hopes whatsoever of politicians ever doing anything that would make our world a safer place. It simply has not happened ever, nor is it likely to happen ever again. The political class marches to a drum beat that is entirely unique to it and the class is most unsuited to march to any other drum beat.  Politicians by definition cannot think long term.

I am in total agreement with George Carlin and for the purpose of this post, I equate the government to politicians.  I leave it to my readers to decide if we are smart or intelligent.