Thumbs up

Not often we look back.

The other day, I was flipping through an old photo album looking at my second daughter whose thumb she was sucking as a young kid. There are ancient stories on thumb sucking as early as 19th century by Heinrich Hoffmann

Yet another story is about Ekalavya. Drona was with his students in a forest and Arjuna saw a dog with lots of arrows in its mouth and was unable to bark. They finally arrived at Ekalavya. This distressed Drona who had willed he will make Arjuna the best archer. Seeing Drona, Ekalavya bows and Drona asked him who his Guru was. He said Drona. Drona asked him to offer Guru Dakshnina and Ekalavya was asked to give his thumb. Ekalavya with respect cuts and surrenders his thumb – sacrificing to retain values.

The grip of the thumb is very important for us. Thumb can touch all other four finger tips. Thumb contrasts with each of the other four by being the only one that is opposable to the other four fingers. Thumb has two phalanges rather than three.

We use thumbs up as an expression of approval. The story of Roman gladiators on thumbs up appears to be not right. The film Gladiators showed this as sign of approval. It also was used for the flight readiness of an aero plane during world war. In the digital space thumbs up is a victory sign.

The thumb gives us control in the use of hand and even insurance coverage for the thumb in damages caused during an accident is pretty high. Even the SpO2 measure on a thumb is higher. SpO2 measurement from the fingers of the both hands with the pulse oximetry, the right thumb has statistically significant higher value. The right thumb has the most accurate value that reflects the arterial oxygen saturation and shows the significance amongst other fingers.

Like thumb, some of our thoughts are dominant. Understanding and prioritizing our thoughts is important to filter our feelings and come up with attitudes that carry us forward to win-win situations.

If not, we crucify our moments and that may lead us to biased failure oriented feelings of anger, mistrust and judgment. In keeping relationships stronger with those whom you want to connect thumbs up or win-win is an attitude. Like the thumb we should be able to touch the tips of all finger tips of our relationships. Imagination has a lot to do with winning. We need to know the strength of thumb and our core strengths.

 I am fascinated about Usain Bolt and his record breaking story of winning. Between 1965 and 2005, the 100-meter dash world record improved from 10.06 seconds to 9.77 seconds, gaining an average of 0.007 seconds per year. Extrapolating the continuation of this improvement rate, would have predicted that the world record would break the 9.60 seconds mark around 2030. Instead, four years later, Bolt established a new world record with a time of 9.58 seconds, a 0.19 second gain over the 2005 record. How was this possible? The answer lies in his answer: “Somebody said I can become immortal”; Bolt said. “Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.” This is the way to handle future with confidence.

A win needs a lot of ingredients. Two on top of the list are will power and self confidence. A thumbs-up to these two is a good start for a perfect winning day. As we use our thumb to advantage we need to have positive feelings dominate our thoughts. The strength of our faculties is to be applied ignoring the weaknesses.

Not that we win always. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we learn how to win. For this we need to know our core strengths that lie in us like the SpO2 levels in our thumbs.

Bruce Lee, another winner stated: If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done. Its focus, it’s the way we use our thumb to grip on matters of choice.

Not so long ago, I read a message – Opportunities are like a biscuit dipped in tea. If you wait for long, biscuit falls off.

 

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Create your own happiness

Day before I saw in the kitchen sprouted green gram, my wife planned to add to tomorrow’s salad. Thought of the effort the seeds put in to sprout against the comfort of being within the shell. Freedom is what the seeds sought with natural environments. 

Let me at this context ask – when was the last time you dipped your head in water either in sea or a river, not in a swimming pool?

The meager excitement I had recently as I dipped into rivers in UP and in Kerala, made me rejuvenate and freed me to think: I missed it for long.

Freedom is a response to chose from varied alternatives that at times shackles us in our own minds. We tend to be in our own built cages.

If we miss to embark upon freedom, like the sprout naturally blossom into flowering plants or breeding fruits, we miss it all.

Most of us unknowingly sit in our own compartment, like a bird sits in a cage with an open door, unable to enjoy and feel freedom. Our minds close eyes from seeing beauty of sun rises. Our minds close our ears not to listen to the chirps of the birds. Our minds close our feelings to understand the aftermath of the recent cyclone. Our minds consciously stop us even to dip our heads in the depth of waters. Fear may be one element like fear of unknown, fear of losing comfort. 

As we enjoyed the boat ride to Thriveni Sangam I chose to get wet, in that amalgamation of rivers. Lost myself and dipped, my head inside the depths of water. As I embarked on to the row boat, I asked myself – when was the last time I dipped myself head down? I rejoiced freedom in a multitude of ways as I dipped in Pampa River and tiredness due to sleeplessness overnight vanished. I felt I was like the seed that sprouted. At ease. Enjoying chillness as the atmosphere was heavy with mist around mountains.

We need to think less about seriousness in our lives. As we hardly have a choice to stop what happens around or in us. Having acquainted with cryogenic industry producing oxygen for long, I have often been asked: when you produce oxygen from thin air, will the content reduce and make an imbalance? That is a good doubt, but the balancing mechanism of nature does the trick. In one way we breathe out CO2 and is consumed by plants community. They breathe out O2 and we inhale. Life is about balance. Some call it work-life balance. We need to balance between reaction & response – handling our lives to make it more interesting, enjoyable….. to be happy.

We need to tilt and adjust our priorities of the moment we pass through. None of us can align and correct ourselves to suit situations always for others recognition. We need to please ourselves first and in that process if others are pleased that is double win.

Raju and Meera will remain in my memories for long. They are connected with the rivers we were near Allahabad. Raju was about 18 years of age and was rowing the boat we were tugged in to reach Sangam. Poorly paid, his smile and stories enticed that small journey with him. Meera sold floating buckets all made of natural elements flowers leaves and a little wick that can be lit before one float this on river Ganga. At Rs.10/- a piece she made her living with tremendous amount of happiness visible on her face and spreading that infectious happiness to others around. We do not seek happiness, rather we tend to seek pleasures and in that bargain pain. We swiftly make our life out of balance.

Enjoy the lit things … sum it up and that makes a huge bundle of joy.

 

 

Live LIFE, one chance to LIVE

There are three triggers for me to capture this photo and post.

One – I chose to replace my cell phone with a new one and my son-in-law ordered through net for one going on discount. Two – a pigeon intruded into my space in the drawing room on the seventh floor through a small slit on the open window. Third weather forecast predicted seasonal rains are almost over, I chose to clean cobwebs and glass frames. Yeah and a fourth one – a forwarded video clip of cine star Simi interviewing Dev Anand and asking him “what do you do when you become old”?

The first incident made me aware that everything has a shelf life and all things in this universe are temporary. Second one reminded me that anyone can occupy your space if you do not live your life. And the third of course was harsh in statement that memoirs are rich if life is lived well? Simi’s question had sprung another question in me – what if I become old? I am just around 73, though!

Now the photo, as I do not really see that photo often though hung on the wall, the cob web cleaner in me took it out wiped the glasses on the frame and was about to hang it all over again. I could hardly believe and was in disguise, and so cleaned the spectacle glasses with lens cleaner and had a re-look at it. Wow – that is me and my sweet heart up in Himalayas (not for our first honey moon, we do that often anyway) in Gulmarg.

A little later I called her up in Mumbai and asked her – Do you still remember our trip to Himalayas in 1980? She said yes, “how can I forget”?

With struggles we encountered like a death in sight case with her in a tubectomy case, a near death case of mine with TM (transverse myelitis) and problems with inadequate funds that stopped but we managed to take our children on yearly picnics etc.; I lived my life with those gaps of need and greed – Gaps that remain as challenges and learning curves.

The sum and substance of this short story is that – Live life; only one chance to live.

Let the weather be unpredictable, we venture out. Let cob webs spring in but clean up our thoughts and recharge. Like those pigeons someone else may live for us if we remain comparing others. So adapt to new things like the cell phone in order to be touch with old friends and people who helped us laugh and had fun with.

And Dev Sab was right: we do not become old, we mature.

Rocks, Stones and Pebbles

You and I love to walk on the sea shore or on the river side once in a way. Who does not? At times, may be when a small sand particle gets into our foot ware, we think of that tiny pebble. Otherwise why we spent time thinking of non-interesting sand that is essentially pulverized, weathered rock that toss up by the waves. Sand is basically a material made of breakdown of rocks over thousands and millions of years.

My wife and daughters have been collecting small pebbles of rocks wherever we went in India or abroad and at times request friends who go places, to bring a small pebble or rock. The idea being “DHARTHI EK HAI” – world is one. As we collect we appreciate the world we live in. We understand the limit of our world as we look at cosmos. As we look at we individuals as a tiny molecule in the huge canvas of cosmos, that makes it sensible. We have a life span of restricted time period. Compare that short period to the tiny sand particles that took millions of years to form?

The highest peak in the world is Mount Everest at 29035 feet above sea level. But that is not the tallest. The tallest mountain is Mauna Kea in the islands of Hawaii. Mauna Kea stands 13796 feet above sea level and extends 19796 feet below Pacific Ocean.

At times we say we touched rock bottom of our lives, it seems a comparison. We say hidden are most of our feelings; like that of Mauna Kea. At times we burry our feelings that burden us like Mauna Kea submerged in the sea. At such times we need to reflect of what Sir Edmund Hillary said “It is not the mountain we conquer; but ourselves”.

In our lives we often climb big rocks, small stones that we trip and fall and sands where we make footprints during our journey of life. We need to remember then of millions of years that rocks take to become sand as water cuts rocks on a dimension of time. Do we overestimate the turmoil we consider as huge in comparison?

It says “River water cuts rocks not because of its strength but by its persistence”. We had a chance to kayaking on the river Sutlej that emanates beyond Indian borders and pass through Shimla. Remembered sitting on the banks on a sea of pebble stones. Close to that place was a hot spring on the banks of Sutlej River that was extremely cold. That spring was hot and was unbearable for hand touch. It is such phenomena that we witness to understand that co-existing as in nature is a lesson to learn for social existence. These lessons help us to build our attitude and thus our character.

It was in Cairo where I and my wife went on a camel back to see pyramids. We chose to walk the distance on a camel back to adapt to that place. Sure it was an amazing experience. Most of us know the way pyramids are built and a lot is unknown. The size of mammoth stones that shaped the angles is a sight that we can imagine. Irregular and equally charming are the rocks and mountains in Rampura en-route to Bangalore. That was a locale movie SHOLAY was shot, Shaped into an array of elegance Sippy chose that place for Shoal to be shot. Jorge Luis Borges was apt in saying – “Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand. But we must build as if sand were stone”. The story of Hampy is another study of rocks. It took time for those monumental structures to be created, but they last a long time.

In my professional life there were umpteen enquiries with nature between official engagements. One such was a visit to Bora caves away from Visakhapatnam. The Gosthani River, originates close to these caves and flows between the solidified stalactites and stalagmites in the karstic lime stones formation. Water percolating from the roof of the caves dissolves limestone and trickle drop by drop to form stalactites of the cave and drip down to the ground. These deposits have developed into interesting forms and structures inside the caves. These shapes have captured the imagination of tourists. Excavations carried out in the caves by archeologist unearthed stone tools of middle Paleolithic culture dating back 30,000 to 50,000 years, which confirmed human habitation. A similar kind of rock formation as a cave is there near Krabi islands in Thailand. During that visit my wife looked above as she had a droplet of water on her head. While she looked above I was looking down as I spotted a plant growing in that underground environment. That is nature. With the need of water for organic growth drop by drop a plant can grow in that ambience. Marvelous indeed I captured a photo of her standing near that plant. Anything is a possibility to grow and flourish, provided we seek the luck in an opportunity at right time. This study is beyond geology and research into historical evidences that create rocks into caves.

Here we differ and think is it right to quote “A rolling stone gathers nothing?”. The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way we use them. Both are rock formations are in our thoughts. We need to differentiate. After all our thoughts are mental blocks; attitudinal issues. That’s why we need to think out of the box. Parallel thinking patterns. Resolving conflicts, in relationships and moving ahead stepping on stumbling blocks of rocks that appear as mountainous terrains. A drop of water with persistence can give life to the plant and a drop of water can cut rocks with less power than the hugeness of the problems we foresee.

Rocks at times are illusionary clouded in colours of blue, like Alps. Such formations provide us with patterns to dream. We climb and achieve success; we compete with self rather than the surroundings and environment. It is not the peak of Everest that we reach but knowing the strength and capabilities of our minds.

Like the rock, the strongest muscle is our heart and the worst enemy is our mind. Understanding this we avoid unwanted thoughts and manipulations. Pass through beautiful caves inside mountains and take a dip to find submerged Mauna Kea.

As we move ahead …

Things change; things will change. Things should change for better. Most of us believe in this. Whether we like it or not!

Sitting once on the shore close to the decaying pillars of the pier (now mostly non-existing) near Kozhikode beach, I who was born in pre-independent India, after world war II, looked at the rate of change witnessed by me and my kind of generation, through now kind of generation.

Most of the thoughts were linked to the way we think and live today and how that will change in a few years. I wish to publish a book on these digital space aspects in relationships soon. Linked to the digital space where most of us belong, I went back to my training days in a British MNC way back in 1970. As part of my induction training I was led into a large room nearly a section of the floor occupying about three thousand square feet at Taratolla Road in the then Calcutta. And I was given to understand that those machines were called computers and main frames. Wow. People around had been working on the cards where they punched holes that were in use with those mammoth systems, called computer. Things changed. We are now with drones, robots and tiny cell phones in our hands which we use and live in this world. Different for me of course, when I have those memory cells in my brain getting excited at the rate of change my kind of generation witnessed. I believe we need to and there is no other way other than coping up, by learning.

Nicolas Negroponte wrote about the transition from atoms to bits and bytes. Years later what he wrote is now real. The reality is we adapt ourselves.
Many years ago when my father-in-law who held his Standard Chartered bank account number “9” was given a 10 digit number and was told that he can have most of his currency transactions from ATM, he was upset and met the manager and told him he will miss the smiles and little conversations between his office staff. He missed the humane touch.

The question is will real become virtual in our relationships as we go more digital?

World is in transit and has been over millions and billions of years. As the industrial revolution came people objected to that. Thomas L. Friedman who won the Pulitzer Prize wrote a book – The world is flat. He dealt with globalization. This book deals with the scope of its ambition on the subject of globalization and technology.

If I look at the way my hair dresser late Raman came to my house and shaped my hair and beard to what we do today, it reveal the change that happened in that small intrinsic area of our lives. Most of us probably have no time to appreciate and find the rate of change we underwent. That includes the non-existent pier that was once used for trade in Pathemaris (large wind driven vessels in sea coast) across continents. World is a bit more flat these days with internet of things.

Change brings in issues and challenges. Seeing those as opportunities makes us appreciate and adapt as our learning experiences gets enriched and enhanced to deal easily with those challenges.

That probably is the way the new social order gets embedded. The way the society becomes truly global. Un-biased; without distinct borders of cultures; integrating diversity into unity. Unity of purpose of changing our mind sets, without changing human values. We need to leverage this opportunity of our times to give the next-Gen a platform from where the next changes will shape up to progress humanity.

Soon we handle driver-less cars and transit on earth at speeds that once we thought impossible. We sit and work from our homes and get paid in full. It’s in darkness where the stars become a delight. We probe and learn and answer some questions some of us even may not know to ask as of now. Our ability to learn will remain the heart and pulse of the creation of that new social order where living patterns will emerge that appears impossible now.

That is possible by improving our ability to improve.

Keeping our ethos alive we improve making choices and taking decisions. In handling technology of tomorrow we keep human values as fundamental. The
challenge is being. Our being; being as humans first and last.

I remembered those days when holding my parents hands they took me to the beach side where those piers handled goods in transit from across the world, at Kozhikode. Online deliveries replaced conventional buying behavior. So it does in various aspects in our daily chores and routines. We need to think. Think different, to make it possible in using technology by learning, replacing old and giving ways for new.

History books record many events that shaped the world we live today. We by creating a destiny that is different from what is planned by back benchers in thought process, need to allow the next Gen historians to write digitally to circumvent the world, that we learnt and adapted to new technologies without eliminating human values.

And we, as a breed remain human, in our approach and relationships, irrespective of living in different cultural bases. The world we live in will become transparent and more flat then. If by chance Raman my barber were to revisit, he will still accept a genuine smile in return to that of his.

There is no limitation to being just a humane. We need to find our inner voices.

Ups and downs

This month June 2017, we were in Visakhapatnam for a few days to be with friends. Standing on the frontage of the flat we stayed, I could see two high rise buildings. Later as we went round that place where in 1971, I worked as a management trainee of a MNC, I was informed that the two buildings are of 35 floors high and have nearly 800 flats. I took some pictures and sent to friends.

I took some other picture a week after that at the Gandhi Road, Christian College Junction on Kannur Road, in Kozhikode. That place now has no signs of the house where I lived as an infant till a few years ago – made to ground zero for the widening of the road.

Up and down?

Seethammathara, a remote village in Visakhapatnam then was approachable only by one bus and few cycle rickshaws. I worked there in night shifts manufacturing medical and industrial gases. Months later I got shifted to Madras. That landscape has changed and has given a rise to the two towers. Gandhi road widening demolished my home where I still keep memoirs.

Ups and downs!

Profoundly in a state of thought, I received a whatsapp message from my daughter showing a photo of her son riding his newly bought bi-cycle – a cute picture of my grandson.

 I linked my thoughts of “ups and downs” to that of the cycle.

Quote – “There’s rises and falls and ups and downs in all music”. Tim McGraw. The music must go on in spite of ups or downs, like the cycle.

During his annual school holidays as a custom we take our grandson for a giant wheel drive at one of those exhibitions. He is only eight years of age and he need to appreciate the ups and downs and the thrill of returning from the downs to ups again. No wonder – Sarah Todd Hammer said – Everyone has adventures in their lives – Some good ones, some bad ones”.

When I sent the picture of the newly laid road demolishing my home, my brothers and sisters engaged in conversations of the “Lost” feelings. I think materials provide us with instant and immediate pleasures that when lost or deleted like in a relationship make us worried, with concerns of what next?

I have changed from those training days in night shifts at Seethammathara. So are the landscapes in terms of growth. We need to be part of that change by adapting without conditions.

We should be like a clock we need not keep watching the clock. But do what it does. Keep moving, unconditionally. Be with the flow. Witness the lives and nature around. After all in those more than 50000 thoughts that come to our minds every day how many deserve our concerns? How many of those thoughts can we influence? Leave and let go.

Let’s keep our looks at the rise of the Sun, the one that wakes us UP. Let our shadows remain behind with the setting Sun as it sets DOWN.

We move on – lets pedal the cycle of life.

 

Imperfection is perfection to a beautiful perspective.

Cleaning fish?

Yes, I was cleaning fish when my mind worked on fish in the sweet waters and sea. That was after a small trip I had to Ernakulam. On the way back we drove via the sea cost, passing through two rivers on the bridge. On the bridge were people fishing with hooks. The time was about 10 p.m. on that cloudy summer and bit sultry.

I generally sit on the balcony as I peel prawns (konju or Chemmeen). I saw ants carrying the shell. Ants are impressive, says Carlos Castro, a professor at Ohio State. “We made a conservative estimate that they might withstand 1,000 times their weight, and it actually is much more. While an ant carrying a huge leaf on top of its tiny frame provides sound analytical evidence that insects can carry weight far in excess of their own.  This is in comparison to nearly about 270 Kgms a human can lift.

 

WoW! I then tried to complete my cleaning work on fish.

 

Fishing for some is a hobby and for others a business. Those whom I saw fishing from those bridges sell their catch at nearby places like Feroke. Then my co-passenger pointed to the well lit fish market near Feroke as we alighted to see that delight.

 

Most of the fish on display for sale had the hook and thread in their mouths. As the fish seller cut the fish I saw him taking out a particular part and hooking it at a place. I asked what that was. He said that fishermen tie that part on the hook – a cycle of process that weaves the chain like the ants carrying the shell of the prawn. Nature and its wonders where human learn and apply.

Capabilities of individuals are learnt as skills. This coupled with natural talents add to human capacities. The limits and tolerances for each creature in nature are also different. Some complement as synergies.

Learning develops and when applied improves our performance.

My daughter Divya love to probe the past and apply it on future like younger daughter Megna. Both in one way or the other are teachers. Divya when she went for such a training session for her client base in London chose to break apart early morning with a cold surrounding the ambience to explore the fish market Billingsgate with her class mate who now run a restaurant there.

That’s amazing, fish in a verity, in colour and texture and shapes and sizes. The taste of-course as you know is also complex and superior. My friend’s son a chef now in Australia explores and prepares recipes at high end restaurants. He says value addition in his hands turns it expensive for customers.

The second process that I wondered was about the way the price tag goes up as the crabs gets to the restaurant tables in hotel chains. I buy the crabs from under the Elathur River bridge en-route to Kannur. It is good there and the price tag for a medium one could be anything around Rs. 45 to 50/- on not a pricy day. But as served in a high end restaurant in Australia that may cost many USDs.

Look at the way things change in our perspectives. The choices we make and the alternatives nature and man provide.

You can be right or wrong in someone else’s perspective. I wondered when I saw the ant carry the shell much higher than its own weight and the tiny part of fish going back to the fisherman to catch another fish on hooks. Never knew such things.

While adding value a transformation process takes place. It changes in context and in appreciation. Views from angles are varying for own eyes. We understand and misunderstand. Not knowing him /her also has an opinion to express and may be that is a different perspective. It is for us to keep an open eye a not so analytical and judgmental eye as we listen to appreciate another view point.

It is at those times I think of the kaleidoscope. Tilting to accept patterns that change that are varied and different. To think whether the next tilt will let you observe a better picture.

Megna likes mackerels and Divya Sardines. At home we buy both. Usha stopped eating crabs.

Imperfection is perfection to a beautiful perspective.

These days wives like Channel number 687 and husbands love Channel 9. A conflict begins on that. Look at the colours and styles of fish that live together. Some like it in a tartar sauce gravy and some bar-b-queue with a squeeze of lemon. I love fresh salad to accompany my fish with a bit of red wine vinegar and Darsh my grandson likes it with yogurt. The beauty is that Usha my wife prepares it to individual tastes at times.

Certainly it’s tolerances and acceptance that makes the music in our lives.

It probably is an open mind that matters. Those with that attitude do not impose their beliefs on others.  They accept all of life’s perspectives and realities and do their own thing to make peace of mind. Because tastes differ, interests differ.

Chose to have own paths. Those who see a path in front as a clear one probably are witnessing someone else’s path, not theirs.

Once again as I went to swab the portico I noticed a fly sitting on top of a left over prawn shell. That is different and that make up for the meal for the fly’s day. Everyone looks at things n different ways.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective not a truth” – Marcus Aurelius.