Losing a pet.

I have a friend, Prasad, in Australia who, like me is in retirement and quite addicted to the computer and browsing.

It is quite a story as to how we reestablished contact after forty years and though earlier on, we were not very close to each other, have become frequent communicators. We now communicate by email and also by skype phone fairly frequently and exchange ideas and information on a lot of things besides of course jokes!

Between 1965 and 1967, we were class-mates in a post graduate course. During this period, though we both share the same ethnic background, we did not become close friends. Late last year, an effort was made by some of our old class mates to organize a re-union of our class mates. Amazing work was done in locating almost all by the rule of six and the re union was a great success. Though neither Prasad nor I attended the re-union due to our own preoccupations, a number of us were able to get in touch with each other and come to know about us thanks to a yahoo group and exchange of mails as also a directory published and photographs shared after the re union.

It was during this period of getting back in touch with each other that, Prasad and I have reestablished contact and have become quite friendly.

Recently, I was unable to raise him on the skype phone and got quite worried. On querying him about the reason by email, he has responded that he was preoccupied with the final days with his dog who finally had to be put to rest. It has taken him and his family quite some time to come to grip with this loss.

This is not the first time that I have come across such grief over a pet. This is something that people who have never kept pets never seem to be able to understand. In my extended family of siblings and cousins, a lot of us have been brought up with dogs and some with cats also! Every time one of us loses a pet, condolence messages keep flooding the web on our various family groups and web sites.

It is extremely difficult to explain the attachment one develops with a pet at home. I am trying to use this blog to express my own understanding of this phenomenon.

I think that it is due to the inability of the pet to communicate to us like human beings can, that makes the relationships so deep. One makes the extra effort to establish a rapport with the animal which one does not with other human beings. The fact that the animal can not talk back to you or, is so dependant on one, brings out the best in one, I suppose. The sheer helplessness of the pet who has to put up with all the expectations of the master/mistress, does some inexplicable thing in the latter’s psyche that perhaps enables all positive emotions to come out instead of the mixture of negative and positive emotions that come out in interactions with humans.

I hope that Prasad reads this and responds with his own comments.

Can Road Accidents Supplement Family Planning?

Not a day goes by in any part of India, without the local press reporting some deaths due to accidents on local roads. Roughly 300 deaths per day are reported everyday from all over the country and it is expected to increase steadily with more vehicles coming on India’s roads. This has led some thinkers to give serious consideration to this method as a viable one to control India’s population and to suggest that such accidents must be encouraged by a series of measures by all government bodies and politicians.

As India begins to shine, it is blessed with the unchecked growth of vehicular population, two wheelers to massive big multi-wheeled semis, constantly jostling for space on limited road surfaces. Enterprising unemployed farmers have even come with a very functional vehicle called the Juggad, which need not be registered with the local RTO, as it is claimed to be for agricultural purposes. The same surface is used by vast hordes of pedestrians and animals too.

The use of roads by non-motorists is not restricted to just walking or cycling, but also to build shantytowns and places of worship. Sometimes, when a worthy personality is killed on one of these roads, a monument is also very likely to come up on the spot where the unfortunate incident took place. If the local heavy weight wants to make some money for his good friend the sculptor, he is likely to erect a statue of a national or regional leader in the middle of a convenient road, and to safeguard its future, get it inaugurated by a political heavyweight too. Seeing how desperate a problem India’s population is, the Central, State and Local governments, all cooperate with each other, in a rare instance of unity, in creating more pot holes than drivable roads, so that accidents can take place.

These developments effectively reduce the area available for vehicular traffic and cause accidents resulting in death or injury. If an accident does take place, and someone falls down injured on the road, no passerby is likely to take him to the nearest hospital as, he dreads the prospect of bureaucratic hassles and police harassment, when all that he wants to do is to be a good Samaritan. The victim is likely to die unattended.

Indians are notorious individualists. They brook no interference in their movements and resist all attempts to guide them to their own safety. It would appear that they have all been trained to be the Indian equivalent of suicide bombers. Instead of bombs, an Indian simply gets on to any handy vehicle and declares war on all that comes in his way. If the vehicle turns out to be a two-wheeler, he will shun the use of a helmet as being unsuited for the Indian climate with predictable results to himself and other similar helmet less riders.

As per statistics put out by the National Crime Records Bureau, India has just been declared runner up in the race to control population, through deaths arising out of road accidents. The winner as expected has been China. While China has actually reported a decrease in deaths due to road accidents from 98,738 in 2005 to 89,455 in 2006, India registered 98,254 and 105,725 respectively. If this trend continues, as it indeed is likely to, India should easily become the number one performer. India will not only become number one, it will also make substantial reduction to the national population. To speed up the process, it is suggested that India holds annual national championships between the states, to generate the maximum road accidents.

Apart from the largest state in size and population, Uttar Pradesh, which has to be number one in something, the three great states that lead in the prosperity ratings of the country, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, are the frontline players in this great game of population control through road deaths. Between the four of them, they account for almost 60% of all road deaths of India. The rest of the country, are not likely to take this affront lying down and will do everything possible to catch up with these upstarts.

It is rumored that, other countries battling with population control and not succeeding with their current strategies have sought specialized training by Indian experts on this technology.

What can officially be done to increase the death rate due to road accidents? Can a formal Manual of Operations be issued to all local authorities? Can special training programs be conducted to facilitators after identifying those who will be enthused in this laudable endeavor?

Our Residential Colony

My idea of a good life is to live in a place where the environment brings people together in ways that enhance their enjoyment of the facilities that are available.

I am fortunate to live in a colony that perfectly fits in to this idea of mine. When we moved in here seventeen years ago, many people did not know about the colony and auto rickshaws would ask for double the fare as it would be difficult for them to get fares back to the city. There was only one paved road and the others were on the Municipal Corporation’s drawing board. While there were some people already living in the colony, we were also welcomed as pioneers.

Most people had come to settle down in Pune either after retirement, or due to transfers to it for employment in the growing industrial sector. For many people, selling off their small flats in Mumbai, then known as Bombay, and shifting to Pune made sense. Larger flats were available at much lower prices and the left over cash made a nice cushion for the retirement nest egg. Our colony too started off mostly with this kind of residents.

Today, the colony has become what people call “up-market”. There is a multiplex, a few big name retailers, a shopping mall, some famous franchises like the McDonald, KFC, etc, besides others like, Roebock, Nike etc. Prices have shot up and the nice old gentle pace has been replaced with high speed traffic zooming around. Many software companies have set up shop here and the floating population with its attendant problems too has begun to trouble us old timers.

In this scenario, the colony’s joggers’ park a beautiful place, is a magnet in the mornings and evenings for people who wish to walk, jog or just sit around, and offers a recreational area for children too. Some very interesting things happen in this joggers park and I shall be writing on and off about those events.

Get Smart!

If you are in the mood for some humor and laughs, here is a site that you can visit for two short videos that will have you in stitches.


Self-made man!

I met a very interesting man yesterday. He was introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance at the joggers’ park, where many of my neighbors meet every evening.

This new comer to the park is a new resident to the colony and has just moved to Pune after retiring from his own business in the Middle East. When I asked him as to how one can retire from one’s own business, he explained that he has sold his interest in the business to a relative who is also in the Middle East and who wants to expand.

Introductions over and preliminaries done with, I asked him to tell me something about himself and he started off by telling me “I am a self made man.” He then proceeded to tell me the story of his life, which is not what I wish to write about.

I do however wish to write about this business of being a self made man! Firstly, logically, it is not possible to make one’ self. Despite being a Vedantin of sorts, I cannot imagine some one being the maker, the material and the made, in human terms. Self-made persons do have mothers and fathers responsible for their birth. There must have been a lot of others in that person’s life to mould his character, and perhaps even his physique! There must have been people and events, which would have influenced him one way or the other.

Assuming however that what is meant by this phrase is that the individual concerned, did not get any assistance from his family and friends in his rags to riches story, this again is next to impossible. While he may indeed have not received any support from his family, every single person that he came across in his path to growth would have contributed to his existence, growth, experience etc.

I believe that our own Dhirubhai Ambani was once introduced as a self-made man and he took serious objection to this. He clarified that there were a number of people in his life who helped him along and participated in his life and growth and therefore he could not be called a self-made man. What humility!