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October 13, 2016 ·
We have a fixation about the public figures, be it sports, politics, music, film or any art. We feel that we should remember their heyday and support them even when their day is over. I feel differently. The current form and suitability must be the only criterion to go by. If they need support, we need to look at it with consideration, but to persist with them in the field that calls for competence even when it is conspicuously absent is obsession or misplaced sense of support.

August 1, 2016 ·
We have excess capacity of the liver, kidneys, etc. They keep quiet without bothering to over work, and we live well. We have excess capacity of brain. We strain it to the limit and create misery. We have problems like religious fundamentalism, a clear product of human brain. We need to understand that brain has function related to one life and it has to be used on need basis, just as involuntarily as we use kidney, liver only when there is work.
I have seen managers who create work for the subordinates because there is some excess time.
(yes, yes.. this post is also the result).
October 25, 2016
வாயை மூடிண்டு சாப்பிடு, - close your mouth while eating” was a constant refrain at home. One would retort, “How to eat if I keep my mouth closed?”
Obviously, opening the mouth to push a morsel in was not prohibited. But, while chewing, one must not open the lips. That seems to be etiquette and also a health titbit. If we chew with mouth open we swallow more air which exacerbates flatulence caused by bacterial decomposition of food.
Also, there was an undercurrent of acharam. As one speaks, a fine spray of saliva permeates the surrounding items, and it was taboo.
It also means that one should not talk while eating – मौनेन भोक्तव्यं. We may find it difficult to follow for many reasons, one of the important ones being that it is not received wisdom from colonial rule.
An aunt of mine made it a practice that she would not talk while eating, to keep her conscience quiet for not resting the tongue otherwise.
My Tamizh vadyar would say, ‘God has given us two ears wide open, but only one mouth which is normally shut.’

July 24, 2016 ·
In India, status symbols are:
Not wishing back;
Turning up late;
Breaking the queue, law, etc.
Letting juniors pick up the bills.

June 27, 2016 ·
We accept a man, not all he says or does. That applies to religion, saints and gurus. We are each a person in our right for a brief period and there is no reason why we must not maintain it and respect our own experience.

June 14, 2016 ·
A thing is not the same when known as when unknown. It is not simply that my mind has moved, but the thing also has moved.

May 18, 2016 ·
Advice falls on deaf years. Reasons may be:
The adviser is not all that wise he assumes to be. Advice is given often as a conduit. Experience does not back it. The giver himself does not practise it.
No two situations are alike.
It is given ad nauseum.
Advice imparts derived knowledge, if at all, which is inferior to direct knowledge People like to learn their own way.
Teaching is incidental.
It is scriptural and impractical.
(The first statement will apply to this piece of writing also).

May 4, 2016 ·
Varanasi
I first visited Varanasi in 1974 when I performed rituals in Allahabad and Varanasi. But for the religious fervour I possessed, it was a depressing visit. The city was dirty, roads narrow, crowded and it was anything but holy. The three cities I saw on the banks of Ganga, Allahabad, Varanasi and Kolkata, did not make me feel reverence for Ganga. Later I saw Patna and it further turned my mind rebellious.
While in varanasi, an anecdote was said how some ruffian threw human waste on a person carrying heavy luggage. The person walked on homeward as the ruffians were trying to divert his attention so that they could bolt away with what he was carrying. That added to my chagrin.
Later I visited in the nineties twice. It was from bad to worse. A local took me to take bath in Ganga that was at the backyard almost. Human waste was mingling at the point and I skipped the holy bath and went and bathed in what was perhaps the same water through the tap.
I nearly missed the train once as the rikshaw was not able to move. It was less than a kilometer. I got down and struggled to walk to the station which was a settlement sort of. It took quite a while to live off that memory.
I do not think there is any holiness in unruly crowd and filth. Even though god is everywhere, he does not prevent us in going after him in clean places.

June 16, 2016 ·
Nothing that man has done has changed the universe a wee bit. Nor has it changed man’s basic needs or nature. Yes, the story is unfolding, but most of us will be gone if it is going to bring an upheaval one day.


March 27, 2016
Change is the order of life, while tradition is clinging to the past. Tradition is not the opposite of change, but it opposes sacrifice of aesthetics, and whimsical changes. Tradition is perpetuation of a culmination. While welcoming the new, we retain a past attainment. It may die if enough people do not support it.

January 4, 2016 ·
Kurai onrum illai.
In a discourse, I heard (50)years ago, '50 years ago, if we asked anyone about their welfare, even a farmer, they used to reply positively. Today, even a boy has a litany of complaints. Our culture has been turned on its head.'
I do not know whether 100 years ago, things were really hunky dory, but the consciousness of rights and what is due to us seems to have grown gigantically and a sense of unfulfilled wishes appears to be pervasive.

December 10, 2017 ·
Bhayam
Often, we may not get a synonym for words across languages because of different paradigms in which societies and hence languages have evolved.
Bhayam or accham in Tamizh may not exactly be fear.
We talk of bhaya-bhakthi for god, not fear of god. Bhayam is more of respect here.
There is an expression – udambile bhayam illai (no fear in body, literally) – used when someone does something slipshod or carelessly. Bhayam is instinctive for living beings, safety being of utmost concern in survival. Lacking it is unnatural.
Fear as a motive for performance is inferior, but not entirely faulty. Many act only in fear. To remove that primer is unwise.
Penalty for offences is based on fear of penalty. It is too daft or too sinister to argue against penalties citing some empirical evidence. We can never produce credible evidence how many people stayed away from offence because of fear and how many by conviction.
There are things we have to be afraid of. Barking dogs, for instance. They may not bite, but why take a chance? There is a kural which says that not fearing what is to be feared is naivete, amidst a myrad that extol valour, courage and bravery.
I have set down my thoughts fearlessly; maybe I should have shrunk in fear!

August 30, 2017 ·
Mariyathai (Respect)
Tamizh (like other native languages) introduces (a problematic?) distinction between singular and plural in addressing another person (second person), unlike the simple and convenient common 'you' in English.
We address elders in plural and youngsters or peers in singular. What about parents and grandparents? I used to address my parents and grandmas in singular. That was considered by some uncivilised. In some families, mother was addressed in singular while father was addressed in plural. While these are only conventions, some attribute values to these and social stigmas are assigned.
Among colleagues, use of singular signifies informality if not intimacy. ‘Da’ in Tamih signifies superintimacy among peers!
Normally, we address younger ones, esp. children, in singular. It was a little amusing to watch in TV shows a grown-up person addressing a kid in plural.
Many Tamizh husbands add a loving (or commanding?) ‘di’ while addressing their wives. Generally, I have not found wives returning that warmth! I found that in the north husbands add ‘ji’ to their wives also. That seems to be good diplomacy worth emulating!

August 27, 2017
Group and groupism
I felt for a long time that group culture is not bad and read recently in a scientific book how forming groups is an evolved feature.
It is in our make-up to want to ally with like-minded people and promote common interests through pooled efforts and resources. Family is the first small and often cohesive and viable group that we belong to voluntarily. A community, a geographic affinity, etc. are larger units, that have varying degrees of loyalty and stability.
There seems nothing wrong in this innate gregarious tendency, or even feeling pride as a member of a group say as a Tamizhan. The call that we should not feel such affinity and pretend that we are just Indian is unreasonable. If feeling as member of a smaller group is detrimental, it does not stand to reason that allegiance to a bigger group is beneficial. One must think like Russell and opt for world government – vasudhaiva kutumbakam. I feel that it will never happen as it is basically not possible.
What is wrong is not group affinity, but fostering a conflict mindset. Just as I may have affinity for Tamizh group, there are others with affinity for other groups. Their interests are as just.
We also belong to several groups based on the interests we wish to pursue. All that is the natural and legitimate human pursuit and giving up on any of it will weaken, not strengthen, the polity of a state.
Quote from The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson:
"The origin of the human condition is best explained by the natural selections for social interactions- the inherited propensities to communicate, recognise, evaluate, bond, cooperate, compete, and from all these the deep warm pleasure of belonging to your own special group.
The creation of the group from the personal and intimate mutual knowledge was the unique achievement of the humanity."

May 12, 2017 ·
I saw the news that a buffalo was arrested in UP. That does not come to me as unusual. Before I say why, my flippant side wants to comment that many who are arrested are far inferior to buffaloes.
In my village, there used to be a pound (system from British times if not earlier) used to keep cattle that trespass into others’ lands grazing the crop, etc. (The expression ‘impound’ might have originated from this use of ‘pound’). It was generally not used because of the hassles. The person who brings the animal to the pound must provide fodder during the period of confinement. (Lalu was not there those days!). The owner will pay the fine to the govt. for keeping the animal and the cost of the fodder.

January 20, 2017
Neutrality is a misused yardstick. If we know definitely that some X has done harm to some Y, not to speak against X for Y is not neutrality, but cravenness. It comes in different shades at different times.
We live in a relative world (this was known practically before Einstein said it with proof in science) and neutrality on the basis of absolute standards is utopian and useless. We have to take a view based on what is known and choose optimally.

January 17, 2017 ·
Opinions
What matters – opinions or facts?
Facts are objective and opinions are subjective. Is it not what we are trained to think?
Objective is a dubious word. There is a myth that if something can be quantified, it is objective. Giving numbers instead of adjectives is considered an improvement. But, how are the numbers arrived at? Discounted cash flow is a fine technique to assess the soundness of an investment, but the technique is as good as the assumptions underlying the figures. Everything we consider objective has a strong subjective bias to it.
Now, on opinions. Which matters? Opinions or facts?
Consider the extreme case – judgment of a court. We consider it sacrosanct or are asked to. It is after all an opinion. It prevails unless it is on disputed water or cricket board.
How are confidential reports written? Purely based on opinions. How do the electorate vote? Based on opinions.
In anything that matters, it is opinion that matters.
Yes, facts may back opinions. Often facts are adjusted to fit opinions! I have seen this happen in credit decisions.
We have to spend our time while in school, college and calm moods to gather facts and fine tune opinions, but in the end we act in the nick of the moment on opinion or judgment.

April 10, 2017 ·
What i write tomorrow may differ from what i write today. But, it will be as honest and sincere as today. A fresh fact, a fresh understanding or a fresh fancy that has seized hold of me will be the reason why i write differently.
Whatever i write is an opinion. An opinion is neither right nor wrong.
A vote is also an opinion. When so many votes are cast in favour of a candidate, so many people have a favourable opinion of him. But, that does not tell us what exactly influenced the opinion. Media and others speculate and while doing so, they are guided by their opinion. It is opinion of an opinion, a shadow of a shadow, to use a very pregnant phrase of Shakespeare.
Much of what we fight about are opinions. To believe that we are right and others wrong is a basic fixation with most of us. That is the root of intolerance. Many people who cried foul on the issue of intolerance did not consider for a moment that they were guilty of that which they complained about.
Truth in the affairs of the world is variable depending on the development of our mind in understanding. When understanding rather than reason or dogma rules our opinions, peace will be assured. It is the duty of responsible people to promote understanding, more than in shaping opinions. It will not only be an uninteresting world, but an impossible one, where everyone will have the same opinion. Religion, politics, etc. come into conflict of a disastrous kind because of an attempt to force uniformity which nature rules out.
Hopefully i will not change this opinion of mine drastically.

April 18, 2017 ·
Conventions
The ‘why’ syndrome is widespread. From an early age, we get into it. As we grow in experience and knowledge, we discover that the answers we got were fallacious at times. Perhaps, the questions were wrong, or we have no means to arrive at the answers.
But, we overdo it at times when we carry the syndrome into conventions.
It is by convention that we keep to the left, call electron negatively charged, keep the knife to the right, decide what to lead from ace and king in a suit in bridge, and so on. The very name right and left to the two halves of our body is by convention. At least, I am not aware of any reason for it.
By and large, we follow the conventions. I wonder if any child abroad asked why knife should be to the right. In fact, I would personally prefer the fork to the right as it is easy for me to eat with the right hand. Luckily, I use my hand or at times a spoon only and no problem.
A convention becomes at times deep-rooted in our psyche and dishonouring it is frowned upon. It may be as offensive to the upholders of the convention if it is violated as for the heretic to follow something because he is told to do so.
By some convention, I write contrarian views!
4/9/18

Earth
I want to tell you all a secret, I guarded closely for so long (I am in competition with Gambhir). ‘We live on the earth and it supports us.’ The reason for this sudden revelation is a post by a friend about contact with earth.
I read this in a book:
“.. small children, when brought on to low, moist ground from a high level, give loose to a sudden spontaneous gladness, running, shouting, and rolling over the grass just like dogs,..”
I remember Russell writing somewhere how contact with the earth (mud) gives a pleasant sensation.
As a boy, I used to play in the mud in the village. Several sports are played even in cities on the bare ground.
I used to love the smell of freshly plucked groundnut. I did not realise then that it was the smell of moist earth, not of the groundnut. We get that smell when there is rain and the earth turns damp. The smell has a word for it: petrichor.
These are simple delights, unexciting to modern people who need the speed and fantasy of virtual worlds.

3/9/18
We must rediscover the spirit of veneration of natural forces, the mountains and rivers, flora and fauna. We must consider it a sin to harm them unprovoked or to pollute them. They are palpably relevant to our life more than an unseen god in an unknown land.


27/7/18
Macro and micro level laws may be different. To apply one to the other may be inappropriate.
Fate refers in the main to macro level or long duration things, like say evolution or planetary movements. They are not amenable to manipulation or our will, at least not yet. It is perhaps wrong to apply it to action by individuals in a limited sphere and under known environment. Things that are not knowable are like macro level things. Our action at any time concerns the known things.

10/4/18
It is rare to find people stick to a point. We have an urge to tell what we know.
In an exam on Maths, a student was writing some essay on Hamlet. The invigilator asked him about it and he replied seriously that he was preparing for the English exam. What he wrote was right in itself, but not in answer to the question. It is not enough that what we write is right, but it must be relevant.
We have had long training on such discursive talk in meetings and committees and it stands us in good stead in social media.

21/1/18
I would think that the rains would clean Mumbai. I realized that it only redistributed the filth.
Avvaiyar has observed how the mounds and pits in a river change after a flood and said that wealth also behaved likewise (ஆறிடும் மேடும் மடுவும் போலாம் செல்வம்).
Social reformation also only seems to change the beneficiaries, not reform but switch.
It is interesting that there was a FB post about Americans who were attracted to socialism increasingly.
Society is in a constant flux.

5/12/18

ve as though they are from heaven ruling over mortals. Surely, they would fail unless they are dictators).

The concern for the prodigal son who returned is symbolic. We have to show extra care for the laggards and errant ones. The sops for the poor and reservation address this concern in the larger context.

A leader must show patience and ability to increase the efficiency of a unit under him. It does not happen by itself or by decree. It calls for understanding the system, the role clarity, coordination, attitude, and so on. The leader has to spot the weak link and see how it can be addressed. Often a well-meaning manager or a political leader may fail because he goes about setting goals without attending to the parts of it that are malfunctioning.
If we apply this yardstick, we can understand why things do not happen as we wish. It is doubtful that anyone of us would make too great a difference if we do not address the weak links in the group, and show realism as to what to expect.

11/11/18
He sells vegetables. Lean and of middle height, he owns a small tempo and is seen in the morning near the park. The walkers-cum-talkers stop by and buy vegetables when they return home.
He is not too educated, but knows enough Maths to count the money, enough economics how to price his goods, enough management as to what to trade that day, where to buy and how to transport it, enough inventory management skill not to carry over the perishable, enough articulateness to have minimal conversation with his customers.
One day, a customer haggled. He told him, ‘It is one price for all.’ Another day a customer suggested that he put placards of prices on the items. He said, ‘Not done.’
He trusts people and does not mind being paid later or giving the change later. He does not ask. You return and he says, ‘OK.’ You demand the deferred balance and he gives without any demur.
He seems happy. He did not complain even when demonetization dampened business.
He earns to live and his possessions must be modest. He may not have any superannuation package, maybe not even superannuation. He may believe or may not believe in god. But, he is not in knots as to why we live and what will happen tomorrow, let alone after death. From my convoluted brain, it seems that his life is spiritual. I may be making up a story, but I like it.

15/10/18
Caveat Emptor or buyer beware
We studied this in economics. It is very useful for life. We can enlarge it to Caveat Usor: consumers beware.
In whatever field we are dealing, the vendor or service provider is likely to take us for a ride.
A doctor will put us to all tests, try all medicines and charge all the fees.
A lawyer will goad us to litigate. In London, to start with, the solicitors advised a bank that there was a strong case for the bank. Down the line, they advisedthat there were chinks in the case and that a compromise was preferable. The difference was that they earned in the process.
I had given my house construction to a contractor. Later, I came to know that he used wall paint for wood also and saved money in many ways by buying inferior stuff.
Some banks used to have hidden charges.
You can add any number of professions.
To get on reasonably well in life, we must acquire smatterings of all that concern us and be wary when we buy anything, engage any specialist or avail of any service. “A fool and his money are soon parted.”
But, there are charms in care-free life as well, taking things as they are. That is for the real life Richard Thaler creatures!
(Richard Thaler got Nobel for his theory based on the assumption that people are irrational).

9/10/18
அந்த நாளும் வந்திடாதோ (Will not those days come again)
It is a usual wistful thinking, remembering the past in nostalgia, that those were better days and that things have gone to seed. It is pleasant rather, not really regretful. Apart from its impossibility, it is doubtful whether we would really love it again. An experience is a composite of the times and our minds. Both change over time and the new composite becomes the reality. Each generation would have felt likewise and in future also it would happen. Still, the charm of recollection is a luxury not to be missed.

4/10/18
I read ‘killing time’, a popular expression for finding time hanging heavy.
In our mythology, it is time (kalan in Tamizh) that kills all. Kalo hi jagadbhakshakah. Bharathiyar sang heroically of killing Kalan, but was taken away prematurely, but he is immortal by his trend-setting poetry. Einstein killed time in a sense, by removing the separate existence of time from space. The tussle is on, we have to see whether man will overpower time. As they say, time alone can tell.

  
September 17, 2018 ·
Spiritual Trip
I travelled to the bank from home.
I saw a poster: “Muharram is not a festival. It is a month of mourning.”
I met a colleague in the bank. He said, “I retired in May. I am now learning Vedas, spending time on pranayama, yoga and puja. That keeps me busy.”
On the way back, I saw an auto display, “Jesus is coming.”

September 11 ·
I heard this mentioned 50 years ago pointing out how the student gave no valid explanation, but still the teacher appeared satisfied:
Teacher: en late? (Why late?)
Student: late aayidutthu, sir. (I happened to be late).
Teacher: sari, poyi utkaaru. (OK, go and sit).
Some 30 years ago in Central Office:
A CGM was absent when his turn came for review of circle performance. He came late and waited in the lounge awaiting his rescheduled turn. He remarked, “I slept off, but will of course blame it on the traffic.”
The boy comes off in good light. He did not invent a lie or a scapegoat.



2018
Boredom
When I met a relative and the talk commenced, the topic was boredom.
Boredom results from inactive body and overactive mind. We have got used to live in a virtual world, led by some pied piper’s tune. We substitute for our authentic experience that of others.
Being active physically, being present fully in what we are doing whether it is bathing, eating or toilet, talking to other beings, even trees and flowers, there are many ways we can engage with life interest and no pecuniary interest.
Just as we should exercise our body to tire it, we must relax our mind to refresh it. Just as we should eat to replenish the lost cells, we should starve the mind to make it open for new ideas.
Boredom is because of the body having reserve energy and mind being crazy for more stuff to cram in. The solution is to burn the excess energy and empty the already crammed mind.
I am no better. Writing a prescription does not cure the disease.

Saturday, December 02, 2017
Praise
To be able to praise is a gift – that we have the heart to praise and that there is someone or something to praise.
I had once done a project and got the report bound classily. The DMD who saw it praised it – not the content but the sleek binding.
I once drafted a letter to RBI (opposing drawee bill system). The C.O. who took it to the chairman gave it back to me signed and said that the chairman praised it. Only to add with a mischievous smile, “After signing, he asked me what was written in it.”
Never mind that some praise is tongue-in-cheek. We must not miss the euphoric moments. Everything fades sooner than later. We must not waste life not enjoying when it lasts. Sometimes it may produce long term results!

April 18, 2017
Two ideas make us less than human: 1. Man is the centre of creation. 2. Man can attain a higher status by some mystical method or creed.
What the ordinary among us, comprising the large majority, need is not excellence, some superhuman ability or something to mark us as special. We need a perfect alignment with life which is a shared pleasure, an ability to see the beauty of what we lose interest in as common.
The relentless competition, to earn and possess more than what we need, a futile desire for some way of continuation of the present life flamed by false promises, a feeling of estrangement rather than love and warmth, these fill our minds and life. We need to read nature more than about it, we need to read others rather than stories on them, read ourselves to connect with life and enjoy its charms.



February 08, 2017

Atithi

अतिथि (atithi)

Atithi is generally translated as guest, but my teacher said that it refers to a stranger who does not stay longer than overnight (a tithi is 24 hours, atithi means ‘not, or less than, 24 hours’). Friends and relatives staying with us for days together are not atithis.

The injunction ‘atithi devo bhava’ refers to being hospitable to the strangers. Presumably, the householders were expected to take care of travellers (pilgrims, etc.) who would stay overnight in a place during their journey. Those days, there were no guest-houses and each house was a guest-house.


The modern day banquets and such affairs are more snobbish, attempt to provide rich food to those who must be on diet, entailing enormous waste.


16/8/2001

Terence Reese on bridge:

“It may be a confusing subject at first, but one day, quite suddenly, the light will dawn.”


This is said about squeeze play, but seems to apply in several other contexts.



25/4/1978


Some people think that intelligence will solve problems. Intelligence is of no value when interpersonal effectiveness is required. Love is what cements people together. Only through love we can bring togetherness, unity of purpose and co-operation. Mere intelligence breeds arrogance and strained human relations either on the surface or deep beneath.



22/3/81


In interpreting a text, some go astray by clinging to the first impression, without reading the whole and understanding it in context. Imagine a judge pronouncing judgement on each piece of evidence, trivial or otherwise. We often fall into this error in our comments. We fly off the handle just by reading the caption or an opening sentence. It is excusable when in jest, but when serious conclusions are reached on that basis, it is immature.



September 01, 2016

Devabhasha


Silence is the only devabhasha. For, one need control mind to communicate with god. Mind is the seat and fountain of thoughts and ideas that only need a language for expression. We tend to ascribe divinity to anyone or anything that is close to perfection. Thus, we have deva purusha and deva bhasha. It should not be taken literally.



July 24, 2016

Beauty: definition:

Beauty is more than passing physical attributes. True beauty is that solid agreement between what one is and what one appears as. It is that inner strength that radiates as outer charm, guileless and artless.


The beauty of definition is that it stirs your mind to search and spread out ideas like a salesman in a sari shop and you are left unsure whether you got what you were looking for.





Even in business, the law will have to be an arrow in the quiver, not the brahmastra. There would arise cases where B and C items may be a headache and need closer attention than that may have to be paid otherwise. It decides what must receive priority of attention, not how much attention a thing taken up needs. The cardinal principle is that anything taken up needs full attention.

Same will go for customer service. Any customer has to be attended to with courtesy and care. That is what builds and sustains market.


Of course, I am not discrediting the principle, but observing its relevance and limitations.

We carry this into corporate world and public institutions also. When everyone goes into a chorus lauding a person, any dissident voice is drowned. No analysis accompanies such opinions.


It is so everywhere. It is so in history also.



June 27, 2016




Independence of a person
We accept a man, not all he says or does. That applies to religion, saints and gurus. We are each a person in our right for a brief period and there is no reason why we must not maintain it and respect our own experience.



June 15, 2016

Man's impact on the universe 

Nothing that man has done has changed the universe a wee bit. Nor has it changed man’s basic needs or nature. Yes, the story is unfolding, but most of us will be gone if it is going to bring an upheaval one day.



May 17, 2016


Advice
Advice falls on deaf years. Reasons may be:
The adviser is not all that wise he assumes to be. Advice is given often as a conduit. Experience does not back it. The giver himself does not practise it.
No two situations are alike.
It is given ad nauseum.
Advice imparts derived knowledge, if at all, which is inferior to direct knowledgePeople like to learn their own way.
Teaching is incidental.
It is scriptural and impractical.
(The first statement will apply to this piece of writing also).


May 17, 2016 

Good and bad
We know, thanks to science, that our blood vessels carry pure and impure blood. Mercifully, there is no attempt to make the body of only pure blood. We do not call the pure blood carriers (arteries except pulmonary) good and the impure blood carriers (veins except pulmonary) bad. The two are vitally necessary for life.

Is life in its totality also similar? Is our conception of good and bad an aberration? Is there perhaps a natural system that generates and treats the ‘bad’ and human intervention is only muddying the water?

Yes. Midnight madness. When I roll in bed seeking out the truant sleep, my mind raves.

l This

May 17, 2016


Alms
Alms: My musings
(To dance or beg is not the question)
Is it right to beg for alms and as a corollary, is it right to give alms? It is likely to get a paradoxical no and yes answers.
Avvaiyar has given such answers. She says ‘Do not give up giving’ (ஈகை விலக்கேல்), and in the next but three aphorisms, ‘Taking is indignity’ (ஏற்பது இகழ்ச்சி).
Two sides are required for a transaction and so if one is right, the other cannot be outright wrong.
Hindu Dharma required that brahmachari, vanaprastha and sanyasi beg and grhastha feed them. It upholds giving and taking in that social setting. As Hindu dharma has crumbled, never bother whether it was right or not, what is the position in the modern society?
Hinduism apart, all other religions too put charity on a high pedestal. Even those who stand away from religion will rarely frown on charity. If charity is to be practised, takers must be there. I am not suggesting that we should create a market the way we have gone about in commodities and service.
Getting personal, I may not have got to where I have been but for charity. I know of many others who had a quantum jump because of timely help. It is a matter of interpretation whether it amounts to taking alms or not.
I feel that every being deserves to live and if it deserves to live, it has to eat. Giving food to the hungry is a social dharma and the thought whether one deserves or not is antithetical to a basic need for living which is sacred.
Why does one depend on alms? Is it due to laziness, want of a gainful occupation, exploitation, social inequities, or state policy? How are we to know in an individual case? Therefore, it has been laid down that feeding the hungry is a social obligation.
Free food used to be served in many places and normally, peope do not go there as people develop a status consciousness. In several temples free food is on offer. Annadanam is undertaken by many. The midday meal scheme, which was perhaps pioneered by The Hindu Theological High School (Deena Bandhu Sangam started by Sri K.Rangaswamy Iyengar) is a right step in this direction.
I strongly feel that the culture of providing food without examining the worth of who is fed will be a binding one.
The idea of praising giving and talking low of taking is intended to discourage depending on charity while being disposed towards doing charity. That seems in order to let people work for their living. The society and the state have a job to do in creating jobs and reducing instances where charity is resorted to.

May 17, 2016
Self control
आत्मवशं सुखं परवशं दुःखं
Being in self-control is happiness.
Being under the control of others is pain.
We should not subject ourselves to be controlled by any outside influence, gurus and religion included. They are for guidance, not to control us.

4/9/18
Earth
I want to tell you all a secret, I guarded closely for so long (I am in competition with Gambhir). ‘We live on the earth and it supports us.’ The reason for this sudden revelation is a post by a friend about contact with earth.
I read this in a book:
“.. small children, when brought on to low, moist ground from a high level, give loose to a sudden spontaneous gladness, running, shouting, and rolling over the grass just like dogs,..”
I remember Russell writing somewhere how contact with the earth (mud) gives a pleasant sensation.
As a boy, I used to play in the mud in the village. Several sports are played even in cities on the bare ground.
I used to love the smell of freshly plucked groundnut. I did not realise then that it was the smell of moist earth, not of the groundnut. We get that smell when there is rain and the earth turns damp. The smell has a word for it: petrichor.
These are simple delights, unexciting to modern people who need the speed and fantasy of virtual worlds.

3/9/18
We must rediscover the spirit of veneration of natural forces, the mountains and rivers, flora and fauna. We must consider it a sin to harm them unprovoked or to pollute them. They are palpably relevant to our life more than an unseen god in an unknown land.

30/7/18
Decisions
A decision cannot wait for all information. If all information is available, the decision will be timed out.
A decision is not a wish. It needs commitment and efforts of the decision making authority in its implementation.
A decision should not be judged by the result. Results are a feedback to make better decisions in future.
A decision which takes away the freedom to take decisions down the line is a death warrant of the organization.
A decision Is a risk. That is why a proposal to lend is recommended as a fair banking risk.
A decision which will never be implemented (most decisions on staff matters in PSBs) is a fraud and a trap for the innocent.
All people are not competent to take decisions. Choice of the right people for posts that involve decision making is a top priority of managements. It cannot be democratic or left to pressure groups.
A decision with ulterior motive for personal benefit is corruption.
However, the overriding consideration has been not to risk promotion and pension!

3/6/18
Quoting a westerner
We have two irreconcilable views on every subject almost. I like grey. I feel that nothing is so clear-cut in life. There are shades of truth. A truth holds in certain given conditions and these conditions are numerous. There is need to balance our ideas. Of course, there are certainly times we have to make up our mind and do it fast.
What about seeking or seeing support from a westerner?
Our minds opened to the west beyond Turkey after East India Company came to trade and traded away our liberty and culture irretrievably. English language, which is seen by a majority as the symbol of slavishness and paradesi, did in fact throw before our minds new vistas of knowledge away from the spiritual and metaphysical, into mundane things with which ancient India seems to have been intimate, but the links seem to have snapped. Our knowledge bias today is western in the template. I see no way or salvation in turning to days before the British ‘corrupted’ us. In fact, India has been a reactor where different ingredients were mixed and new and newer identities kept evolving. Invasions took place not just after the middle eastern marauders, but long before.
When we are discussing everything in the western paradigm, it comes naturally to quote a westerner. Not that it is a decider, but that it adds a clarification or confirmation. Also, if what I am saying finds resonance in another who is not subject to the same bias as I am, I feel vindicated in an objective way.
More to the point, it is not any westerner we quote, but a knowledgeable one. It is the knowledge that is given the premium, not the colour of the skin.
Quoting anyone is unobjectionable. We must join issue on the content, not on the carrier.

10/4/18
It is rare to find people stick to a point. We have an urge to tell what we know.
In an exam on Maths, a student was writing some essay on Hamlet. The invigilator asked him about it and he replied seriously that he was preparing for the English exam. What he wrote was right in itself, but not in answer to the question. It is not enough that what we write is right, but it must be relevant.
We have had long training on such discursive talk in meetings and committees and it stands us in good stead in social media.


5/12/18
ve as though they are from heaven ruling over mortals. Surely, they would fail unless they are dictators).
The concern for the prodigal son who returned is symbolic. We have to show extra care for the laggards and errant ones. The sops for the poor and reservation address this concern in the larger context.




4/10/18
I read ‘killing time’, a popular expression for finding time hanging heavy.
In our mythology, it is time (kalan in Tamizh) that kills all. Kalo hi jagadbhakshakah. Bharathiyar sang heroically of killing Kalan, but was taken away prematurely, but he is immortal by his trend-setting poetry. Einstein killed time in a sense, by removing the separate existence of time from space. The tussle is on, we have to see whether man will overpower time. As they say, time alone can tell.






Saturday, December 02, 2017
Praise
To be able to praise is a gift – that we have the heart to praise and that there is someone or something to praise.
I had once done a project and got the report bound classily. The DMD who saw it praised it – not the content but the sleek binding.

I once drafted a letter to RBI (opposing drawee bill system). The C.O. who took it to the chairman gave it back to me signed and said that the chairman praised it. Only to add with a mischievous smile, “After signing, he asked me what was written in it.”
Never mind that some praise is tongue-in-cheek. We must not miss the euphoric moments. Everything fades sooner than later. We must not waste life not enjoying when it lasts. Sometimes it may produce long term results!


16/8/2001
Terence Reese on bridge:
“It may be a confusing subject at first, but one day, quite suddenly, the light will dawn.”
This is said about squeeze play, but seems to apply in several other contexts.

25/4/1978
  
Some people think that intelligence will solve problems. Intelligence is of no value when interpersonal effectiveness is required. Love is what cements people together. Only through love we can bring togetherness, unity of purpose and co-operation. Mere intelligence breeds arrogance and strained human relations either on the surface or deep beneath.

22/3/81
In interpreting a text, some go astray by clinging to the first impression, without reading the whole and understanding it in context. Imagine a judge pronouncing judgement on each piece of evidence, trivial or otherwise. We often fall into this error in our comments. We fly off the handle just by reading the caption or an opening sentence. It is excusable when in jest, but when serious conclusions are reached on that basis, it is immature.


July 06, 2016
ABC approach
Pareto’s law is commonplace. Anyone with a stint in management or a course in management would have come across it.
Somehow, I feel we should give attention to whatever we do 100% and should not follow ABC approach. Life is not business and is not about success or maximizing gains. A life where we have lived every moment not bothering about what its future payoff would be is more likely to be satisfying.
Even in business, the law will have to be an arrow in the quiver, not the brahmastra. There would arise cases where B and C items may be a headache and need closer attention than that may have to be paid otherwise. It decides what must receive priority of attention, not how much attention a thing taken up needs. The cardinal principle is that anything taken up needs full attention.
Same will go for customer service. Any customer has to be attended to with courtesy and care. That is what builds and sustains market.
Of course, I am not discrediting the principle, but observing its relevance and limitations.
We carry this into corporate world and public institutions also. When everyone goes into a chorus lauding a person, any dissident voice is drowned. No analysis accompanies such opinions.
It is so everywhere. It is so in history also.

June 27, 2016
Independence of a person
We accept a man, not all he says or does. That applies to religion, saints and gurus. We are each a person in our right for a brief period and there is no reason why we must not maintain it and respect our own experience.

June 15, 2016
Man's impact on the universe
Nothing that man has done has changed the universe a wee bit. Nor has it changed man’s basic needs or nature. Yes, the story is unfolding, but most of us will be gone if it is going to bring an upheaval one day.


December 31, 2015
Reading

Much reading may not lead to clarity. Clarity is like seeing a way through a maze, finding a pattern among a confused heap, reaching the kernel after breaking the shell and excoriating the fibre. Often, reading a lot does the opposite; one weaves a maze, collects a heap of useless facts or covers the essence with roughage.

November 24, 2015
Excellence
It was the best seller and craze in early eighties, the book ‘In Search of Excellence.’ The boss recommended that we read the book. I read, but was skeptical why we should read it as anyway we follow policies that perpetuate mediocrity.
As I was reading a collection of essays on how to build confidence and character, ability to size up people, follow on our dreams, pursue innovation, etc., I felt what the ordinary people need is simpler stuff, how to work sincerely and live in reasonable comfort within means.
Raising the expectation unrealistically may only result in disappointment and substandard performance.

November 07, 2015
Jadatvam (Inertia)
Jadam is something insentient. It is gross as opposed to the conscious. A stone or lump of wood is jadam. When it is applied to human beings, it shows stubbornness, impermeability, non-receptivity to fresh evidence and revision of one’s understanding.
All of us have a trace of jadatvam, but it is not evident to us. We see clearly the jadatvam in others readily as we can see a speck of dirt in another’s face, but even a lump in our face will not be visible to us.
Jadatvam manifests in various forms.
One form is when we judge another person. A wrong done by him once is remembered by us for all time as it looms large in our mind. His subsequent deeds and conduct are held to be of no merit. We stereotype people based on such incident(s).
In a way, learning is made possible by categorization. A definition is often defective because of this jadatvam in its formulation. We assign decisive weightage to a particular behavior and make it the fulcrum of a definition, but it fails comprehensiveness test. That is in the nature of what we study and ourselves.
There is so much jadatvam in all religions. The followers believe implicitly everything said at a distant past and are unable to distinguish between mere symbolism and the spirit because the scriptures disallow any change in what they say. Little do people think how there can be so many varying commands and assurances with finality emanating from the same source. Shoud it not lead one to suspect that all scriptures are as humanly received and not in the language of God? How can god give his message in a language which is not universally understood if he wanted to communicate? We say a particular language is devabhasha and perhaps it is understood by devas today. The same goes even for other languages where there are people who speak it. God speaks in the uniform language of nature and the scriptures are human interpretation of nature. How can god be partial and make himself understood to only a chosen few and at a time of his choice and expect all who have not been so favoured to be sheep? Enquiry is the only way to understand anything. Jadatvam is a serious handicap to understanding and improvement. Belief is helpful, but not enough.

August 18, 2015
Making a mark outside one’s habitat
We see that a number of people of Indian origin make a mark outside India or in multinationals of non-Indian origin and control. Some have won Nobel, etc. It is glibly assumed that these men could make it big in India also. The achievement of these people has come on top of the work of decades of many in a system that is relentlessly merit and result-oriented and in conditions of affluence. It is a long haul for India to provide that quality of a habitat.
The same goes for SBI men outside SBI.

July 22, 2015
In interpreting a text, some go astray by clinging to the first impression, without reading the whole and understanding it in context. Imagine a judge pronouncing judgement on each piece of evidence, trivial or otherwise. We often fall into this error in our comments. We fly off the handle just by reading the caption or an opening sentence. It is excusable when in jest, but when serious conclusions are reached on that basis, it is immature.

July 14, 2015
We operate from some fixed positions. We brand people or organisations as good or bad and all our comments are dovetailed to it. Disagreement and disharmony stem from this fixation. It is neither secular nor ‘objective’. We change in a changing world and we act as much from our character as according to circumstances. Dialogue and open mind can lubricate the points of friction, but in the heat of things we do not do the analysis that cooler moments afford.
Not just political parties do it, we group ourselves ideologically and behave no differently. Many comments betray lack of understanding and any study.
We are never going to arrive at a world where it will follow the dictates of our fixed position. We will live in a world of opposites or in no world at all. Human purpose can only consist in organizing ourselves in such a way that the opposites co-exist and we define our space and leave others to their space.

June 09, 2015
Learning takes place at the biological level and at the voluntary level. At the biological level, it is designed by nature for self-preservation. At the voluntary level, there is one type of knowledge that bombards us when we expose ourselves. For example, I saw here that Lopez is likely to land in jail, something with which I may have nothing to do. Then, what knowledge would interest one? Is there a universal choice? There will be where our practice is born of ignorance and knowledge is likely to correct us sensibly. The problem arises when people prefer ignorance (maya?) and continue in their ways and even consider others misguided. This happens all the time to any of us. Many of our opinions are impressionistic and immune to any additional input. The world seems made that way. In any society, the learned were not immediately understood and were even tried for heresy. In politics, commerce and religion, the trading strength is ignorance. Nestle is putting out videos explaining how Maggi is what the doctor, if not God, ordered. The Church would not accept evolution. The politician has his day when there are people ammafying you. I have the advantage of being philosophical!

 June 05, 2015
Problems and solutions
I read in a management book, never take your problem to your senior unless you have yourself thought of a solution. The idea is that the best answer is what you can find. Over time, you improve. If you take the answer of another, you look for answers all the time from others. You end up with questions, as if you are a quiz master. An A.O. told me that his officer put up everything to him for information or instructions.
If you ask a question sensibly, you must know the possible answers and you are just looking for others’ experience. That is rare.

May 07, 2015
Attitude
I was travelling in a crowded suburban train in Bombay (as it was then). A group of office-goers were playing cards. That is a speciality of Mumbai, people playing cards even standing. One of the players was smoking. Right behind where he was sitting, the notice was there- No Smoking. I pointed out to him the notice. He turned back, saw it and said, ‘likhnewala likta hai’, and got busy with his play.
Another day, I objected to a person smoking in the train and he took out of his pocket a rupee hundred note, waved it and said, ‘I have the money to pay the fine.’
In Bengaluru recently, a passenger was about to throw out the window a used ticket and I told him, ‘Please do not throw it; it is our city.’ He threw and said, ‘Why are the corporation people not doing their job? Let them do.’
An Indian wanted to engage a cab in UK, and there was one too many for the allowed number for a cab. He pleaded with the cab driver to take them as one was a child. The cab driver replied, ‘We make rules here to obey them.’
There was an officer posted abroad, a senior who retired as GM, who I believe used to buy clothes and return them after a week as return was possible there. He used to enjoy new clothes free until the store noticed it.

 May 06, 2015
Originality
Sankara gives us a well argued and compact philosophy of advaita, communicated in beautiful language. Sankara acknowledges that he is only an exponent of what he has received from a long line of teachers. While his own stamp must be there in his exposition and it could stand on its own, he relates it to vedas as the source (pramana). In so doing, he honours tradition and also provides testimonial authority as in matters so abstruse as the soul evidence from perception is impossible. His submission that it was not his original (we do not have any earlier treatise on advaita as elaborate and as cogently argued as by Sankara) is not merely in humility. No matter how great a person, he represents a link in a chain, even if a golden link. All that he understands and narrates do not proceed straight from his brain.
Einstein acknowledges as much. His epoch making theories did not come as a bolt from the blue, but as an advance from the then current state of knowledge, but he did provide a leap.
Sanjay Subrahmanyan says about his music that whatever he presents is drawn from what he has heard. He quotes GNB who has said that what appears novel in his recital is a combination of the styles he has observed in the best singers of his time.
When a CGM was promoted and junior colleagues congratulated him, he said, ‘You have done the work and I am rewarded.’ It is not modesty pure, but has a grain of truth.
The point is that there is no real originality. Things proceed in an invisible chain and some are smart to mark a new streak unobserved by others. No achievement can be the making of a single individual. Even Ramanujan must have had the benefit of the development of mathematics at a stage from where he leapfrogged it ahead of his time. It is not to deny genius and individual contribution, but to see it as a continuing process rather than as a discrete event.
In a word, humility may never be misplaced.

May 04, 2015
Usury
Reading Nicholas Nickleby, I came upon the usurer, Ralph Nickleby. Dickens describes the practice of usury in his characteristic long-winding way humorously. That set my mind on what happened in my village. There was a landowner, Munuswamy Iyer, who had just a daughter. He used to lend to the distressed at exorbitant rates against land and over a period, not long, the land would be his as the borrower would have no means to meet the dues that multiplied fast. Some of the ancestral lands my father inherited became his property in this manner. I am not complaining, but recollecting. It also reminds me of what someone said about the aborigines whom the missionaries converted: when the missionaries came, they had the bible and we had the land; now, we have the bible and they have the land.
It is just a way to spend time, remembering and commenting. The word will carry on with similar happenings as greed and gullibility are good partners. Molecular behaviour exhibits similar tendencies, just to remind that being human is not all that great.

 May 03, 2015
Are we asking the right question?
If certain questions eluded sensible answers to the best of minds over the ages, it is possibly that we have been asking the wrong questions. Many questions presume a simple back sequence. For example, chicken and egg question. Possibly, it evolved in a different way, rather than as egg or chicken first. Similarly, how the world came about may be wrong. It may not be that there was a time when there was nothing. The same thing exists for ever and appears to be changing including evolution and involution. The advantage of directing the gaze to another paradigm is to see if the available clues fit in better. Maybe a still different imagination may be required.

11/6/1982
Mr. M and I were playing shuttle cock or rather were trying to as I connected not even my services. Thick drizzles drove us inside the house. Mr. m was agog with praise that the monsoon pundits are right after all; they predicted 10th as the most probable date for monsoon to arrive. I told him it was perhaps a statistical guesswork. Even with the worst-placed no-luck persons, once in a way it happens. I was neither serious nor light.
Later in the day, Mr. C was emphatic that the light shower of the morning was at best a remote precursor to the monsoon, not the initial phase of the monsoon proper as the ignorant assumed. I remained tight-lipped, believe me for once, for I knew not to distinguish between a monsoon rain and the other type.
On 11/6 also there were downpours, more frequent than 10/6. I wondered: What is monsoon rain? What is a weak current and what is a monsoon rain?

1.4.2002
An actor on stage plays out a part a thousand times. He has to do nearly the same thing over and over again. It is in doing such repetition ceaselessly that he pleases the audience and fulfils his role.
A devout man similarly does puja everyday, the same rote but with undiminished, nay, ever increasing fervour.
A man seeking success in life has to adopt a similar attitude. Fools give up half way in despair.
Success in life depends on engaging the faculties fully, detaching the mind to the extent possible. Such success is graceful and brings bliss.
Spiritual attainment is the reverse. It calls for engagement of the mind fully keeping to the minimum the use of physical faculties.
In godhood there is either total cessation of the two or total engagement in full awareness and control.

January 03, 2015
Eating
Do we eat to live or live to eat?
Quibbles occupy thoughts. It is a typical mindset that a yes or no answer is clear-cut in all questions.
Eating sustains us, but what we eat is a choice. To relish what we eat is innate. When we had a cow at home, I saw that it showed eagerness for grass and peanut cake (after pressing the nut of oil) soaked in water in preference to hay that was its staple food. Thus, animals too prefer tastier food.
We eat to live, but choice eating is one of the chief attractions of living. A glutton may invite ridicule and ill health, but an epicure enjoys life in style and substance.



December 05, 2014
Stray thoughts
I went to a concert and saw that a function was just commenced with invocation, for conferring a title on the singers.. I had taken kindle and started reading  A Tale of Two Cities. Speeches followed in Kannada. I wondered whether I would have looked up at the speaker if it was in Tamizh (listening is involuntary). I thought the better of it and thanked that it was in Kannada because it did not quite interfere with my reading and I got the gist of what was being said (often you may get it even without being there as it is stereotyped). It is part of the package as without it music may not be on offer.
In the book, an expression, ‘he worried his breakfast rather than ate it,’ attracted me and reminded me the way it was with me from school days to retirement, and now as it has become a habit.
I wondered whether the present generation of net and jet age would ever be interested in reading such books that proceed at a leisurely pace with long-winding prose.

November 29, 2014
Adult
Scientists of both body and mind have cut a man into pieces. Those of body have cut him into head, heart, etc., leaving many brainless, heartless or both-less. Those of mind have cut him into Id, Ego, Super-ego (Freud) or child, parent and adult (Eric Berne). Therefore, the odds are we will not find a whole man. My quest to find an adult may be queer, but I am not unknown for mad choices. Let me soldier on.
My mind took the above opening when, suddenly, I felt curious to know who an adult would be. It has been the story of my life journey that I normally look for anything in my wild multidimensional imagination rather than in the cold three-dimensional world. What follows can therefore hurt no real soul if found flagrant.
Law lays down that a man becomes an adult once he turns eighteen. It is that flip second as the midnight hour of the seventeenth year of one’s existence sways from 11.59 to 12.00 that adulthood drops from above as an angelic gift. Law has been likened to an ass, but the transformation at that precious second may not necessarily be into an ass.
Maturity is considered a qualification for being an adult, but it is a synonym. An adult and a mature person mean one and the same thing (person?). The reason it is touted as a qualification is that many legal adults are not mature (not real adults).
I read that Narendra’s (Vivekananda’s) father advised him not to be surprised at anything while encountering the world. Isherwood says that such is the advice a Westerner also receives. That is the first telltale sign of one’s becoming an adult – not being surprised at anything. In elaboration, it may be said that an adult is reasonably aware of ordinary things of the world. Where something is not known, it is something to be picked up if necessary, not to be wondered at.
Moderation is another attribute of an adult. It is like applying brake while driving. Impetuosity and temerity are attractive in adolescents, not in adults. Moderation is not adopting a middle course, but weighing practicality, perils and impact. It is not avoidance of risk, but management of risk. It is not a mindless mean between opposing claims, but a workable solution without sacrificing the essence.
Enjoying productive work is an adult trait. Leisure or pleasure as a whole time goal is a contra indication.
An adult appreciates that his knowledge is limited and conditioned, that scope for correction is aplenty. He knows that his views spring from his beliefs and that other views may contradict his because of change in the standpoint. He is confident of his stance without the need to be rambunctious, and lives in amity with others of different takes on a given matter.
The urge to advice is in check in an adult. (My children must be chuckling if they read, but I am safe as they are not into FB). Individuals develop by experience, not by instruction. Developing juniors is very much a responsibility, but the role is played as a case-in-need and not as a director.
Economy of speech is practised by an adult. He does not feel the need to put in his view or contradict another. He speaks if it matters. (cf Rahul Dravid on Sachin’s claim about Chappel’s offer of captaincy: I have not read the book, and after reading it, I will give my comment if it is needed.) He expresses himself in his behavior and action. His words carry the backing of his personal experience.
Well, to be an adult in character is demanding, but it is optional. I have decided to be a child and play around and be in the world of passing fun as, encouragingly, innumerable others have chosen.

October 19, 2014
Is the world mechanistic?
My response: We need to understand what we mean by 'world' and 'mechanistic'. World seems to be divided against itself in micro and macro aspects. Mechanistic can mean mindless or according to a set order. I am talking of how I grasp it. If we are talking of the world in its 'objectivity' or 'totality', we are perhaps yet to understand it. Speculatively we have a wide range of views of the world from that it does not exist to that nothing else exists. 'Reflexivity' gets into play. The observed and observer cannot be isolated and when we do so, we get erratic views. This phenomenon has been expressed in different ways in different contexts. The uncertainty principle in QM, the waywardness of economic variables under observation, stock market behaviour vs an individual investor etc. The correct answer could be yes and no, depending on the ground from which you observe.



October 16, 2014
Friend
There is so much expectation as to who a friend should be. He should be a friend in need, of course not his own need, but ours; he should not talk of us except to say our good points (real or imagined) when we are not there; the list goes on. A friend is someone with whom we have a free interaction, find that our time with him is well spent, and there is no mutual expectation. Let us expect nothing from a friend except his time when possible. No one else makes us what we are in totality. We owe it to ourselves as adults.

October 03, 2014
Comparison
Thou shall not compare - Religion.
Benchmark - business wisdom
There appears to be a dichotomy between worldly pursuits and spiritual quest.
I studied this poem in school:
தம்மின் மெலியாரை நோக்கித் தமதுடைமை
அம்மா பெரிதென் றகமகிழ்க - தம்மினும்
கற்றாரை நோக்கிக் கருத்தழிக கற்றதெல்லாம்
எற்றே யிவர்க்குநா மென்று.
(. நீதிநெறி விளக்கம் - ஸரீகுமரகுருபர சுவாமிகள் அருளியது)
It says: Look at those worse off than you and be happy how your possessions are huge; as regards knowledge, look at those who are more knowledgeable and feel humble how you are so small before them.
In material possessions, contentment is advised and for knowledge desire for more is advised. Good to follow for happiness in life.

September 15, 2014
Episode from an interview
When I was on the panel to interview candidates for PO of associate banks, a girl came from SC/ST from a marginal farmer's family. Her English will put the city-bred to shame; she answered questions splendidly and her participation in group discussion was balanced. At the end of the interview, I told her, 'Convey our compliments to your father.' A panel member said after she left, 'You have given her a message that she will be selected.' The Chairman of the panel said, 'What is wrong?' It was a touching experience. How many of them may be languishing.


Friday, August 22, 2014
Duty and Right:
Indian thought concerns itself with dharma (duty). Right (adhikara) is not talked of. Even where it is talked of, it is to action (karma). A friend said that the term adhikari means one who has to give service, but in practice, we do not see it so.
Right of speech must be taken as duty to speak the truth. Right of education should be taken as duty to study. Right of property should be taken as custodial duty (see Gandhi, Tamizh proverb 'the duty of the wealthy is supporting the kin'), right of religion should be taken as duty to follow one's own faith, right of use of public property should be taken as duty to protect it and keep it sanitary. It is only such a mindset that can bring peace and prosperity and a purposeful resolution of conflicts.


June 2001
यल्लभसे निजकर्मोपात्तं वित्तं तेन विनोदय चित्तं
'Let your mind be pleased with the wealth attained through your efforts (karma).' Ill-gotten wealth also is acquired through efforts, but karma rules it out. this seeks to instil faith in action and earning.
विधिवत् प्राप्तेन संतुष्यतां
'Be happy with that which destiny ordains for you.'
The message is destructive and cannot do credit to its author and will lead to a self-anninhilating world. Ignore. The previous message is apt.


13/1/2012
Nobody owes us anything. The converse is not true. It is not correct to assume that we do not owe anything to others. But, it is not humanly possible to pay all others what we owe them. The best we can do is not to demand anything from anybody, not to expect, not to feel the lack of such help, not to feel let down. To carry a burden that we have not paid others their dues is not good either. The mind has to be freed, not fettered.

14/12/1996
We pass through several stages in life.
We do not criticize mistakes in children. In fact, we enjoy their mistakes. ‘Naughty,’ a mother tells proudly of her child. But, when one grows up, we do not appreciate such mistakes.
Two aberrations take place. One is, parents tend to tolerate or encourage continuation of childhood mistakes in their children even as they grow up. Second, there are some who are less appreciative of the mistakes in others’ chidren.

Jul 1999
Evolution is not the final word. I feel evolution is a subset of the inter-relationship we sense and experience in the world.
Food is not the origin of life. There is a food-life continuum. One life becomes the food of another. Thus ife is interactive and mutually supportive. Compare with other continuums: space-time, wave-particle, etc.

31/8/2001
The dharma of an individual and of an organization may not be congruent. The HRD policy of an organization may not be congruent. The HRD policy of an organization cannot be based on the dharma of an individual. An individual has to contend with ife and make its passage smooth and enjoyable. He has to take in his stride success and failure. An organization will collapse if its HR policy is based on this dharma an individual. An organization has to spot talent, promise and potential and reward performance. It has to create fits and be satisfied with what happens.
We shun decisions thinking an unpleasant consequence may arise if our decision is found to be wrong by hindsight. It is not often that such unpleasant consequence results. Even if we are put to suffering, it is an immature mind which fears suffering. We suffer more in our mind than because of the outside world. While we need not espouse suffering, we should not court the cosiness inaction or indecision may apparently afford. It is poor leadership.

September 24 ·
Morning is a precious time. Already we have ruined it by the habit of reading newspaper first thing in the morning. Looking for coffee/tea and newspaper as we wake up is part of our routine.
Some of us go for a walk. Walk is for relaxation of both the body and the mind. That is not the time for us to share what we lack (may look paradoxical). Most of us lack nothing but an appreciative mind. In the morning, we must do things that charge the mind with being and well-being. Look at nature, a bough gently swaying in the niggardly breeze, a bird chirping and cooing, a child smiling, a calf frolicking, and if we should break the silence, talk of pleasant things over which no further action lies. Keep off phone and earphones. Be with what is around.
Everything else can wait. They will certainly not go away. We owe it to others to brighten their day.
A tough call in crowded cities with only hoots and shouts all around, and people lost in the rat race.

March 28, 2018 ·
All about curd rice
It was 1986 I think. Sri V Mahadevan visited Madras LHO. As he entered the lunch room (he came on some official visit of course, not for lunch), he exclaimed, ‘Very good, curd rice is there’ like children would on seeing choice desserts. Most Tamizh people may be pleased with curd rice which is the regular dessert in meals for them! A north Indian colleague remarked, ‘You have the antidote as finishing course.’
A friend demurs as he says, ‘Buttermilk, not curd, is what the doctor ordered.’
Buttermilk, lime juice and coconut water are three healthy drinks compared to a variety of coloured, carbonated, caffeinated, sugar solutions.
Curd is a probiotic by itself, but Nestle and others sell probiotic curd, whatever it is supposed to contain.
I used to go for curd rice in preference to other items even before my stomach dictated terms, but my elders would chide me, ‘muttaalukku mor saadam’ (Curd rice is for fools). They might have been on the dot, but some twist it to mean that a fool will improve on eating curd rice. No luck for me though!
O, I forgot to mention that these thoughts occupied my mind reading a forward:
“The Curd Rice is the only Indian food which can release a chemical called tryptophan in brain, which calms down the brain. People take it with sugar outside India mostly. Sugar will not calm your brain, but increase glucose level and make you more restless.

Tryptophan brings a cool thinking, and your neurons are recharging with a mild rest. (In Sanskrit it is Thrupthophan, thrupthi means satisfaction).”
Ingenious ending!

March 26, 2018 ·
All About Ass
Ass that I am, I know not to tell an ass from a donkey. Is ass wild whereas donkey is domesticated?
A fool can either be an ass or a donkey – he has free choice.
The male of either is jackass while female of the species jenny. How come there is no difference? A foal for the young one is also the same and so too asinine as adjective.
I am reminded of a love story that goes like this: A king there was and he was so fond of his wife. The queen though was fond of the launderer. The launderer in turn doted on his wife. The launderer’s wife loved the ass exceedingly. The story teller left it hanging there. The preference of the ass is a mystery.
Shakespeare the great did not treat the ass so slightingly. He converts human beings to asses in Midsummer Night’s Dream and produces an entertaining play.
To be called an ass may not be all that demeaning. Otherwise, how would I assume that title without qualms?

 May 19, 2015
Two useful adverbs: How and Now
Asking questions is a useful habit, but we must know how to deal with the answers. Some questions are academic or metaphysical, just satisfying idle curiosity with speculative answers. Many ‘why’s fall in that category. The question ‘how’ can be useful. How to live is more practical than why to live, which can have no definite answer. Life is a process and living it in a satisfying way is to the point. Even in eating, how to eat is important as most problems arise from bad eating habits. While watching an action (even a game), it is useful to know how it is done, but we are infatuated by the actor, player, miracles, etc. We know the value of knowhow, but stop short of building it in us.
Another endless debate is about time. Is time real or not? What is time? They are significant scientific (could produce some change in our life if mastered) and philosophic (its usefulness may be intellectual) enquiries, but ordinary mortals have no immediate advantage from indulgence in it. The only part of time that is real and significant is ‘now’. Being alive (as a whole being) in the ‘now’ is to the point.
We must know to live every moment at that moment.
14.1.2002
Reasoning
Reasoning is man’s worst enemy. The question ‘why’ can often be met only with ‘why not’. Even the apparent reasoning that we arrive at may be merely accidental. So much debate on TV etc. is a stupendous waste of time. Let us not reason. Let us understand. Reason can never lead to happiness or truth. Truth has to be lived and experienced. It is not a mathematical or logical proposition. It is life.
Cf. Oscar Wilde: “I would to God that I had been able to tell the truth.. to live the truth. Ah, that is the great thing in life, to live the truth.”

January 25, 2015
Freedom of Speech
What does it amount to? Right to say anything?
Remember the person who was swirling his umbrella claiming his right to do what he liked with it, and his neighbour correcting him to the limitation to do so where his nose started?
Hurting others’ feelings may not be the decent extension of freedom of speech, but death penalty cannot be the just desserts for it, that too dealt by rabid and barbaric terrorists.
There need be universal acceptance of limits to freedom of speech well administered impartially. It can have nothing to do with scriptures or the greed of people like Mahesh Bhat who want to make money under such freedom in transgression of social decency.
Young minds that will shape the society of tomorrow are under the influence of media and celluloid and some restraint is necessary in the interests of society.
Let it be looked after outside religion, commerce and politics (government), through institutions like courts. Not that they are impeccable, but are inevitable.

August 16, 2014
Marriage bond
Mahabharata:
"Limited are the gifts of the father, of the brother, and of the son to a woman. The gifts that her husband makes to her are alone unlimited."
In Ramayana, Sita tells the same thing to Atri's wife in the forest.
In my view, the most sacred of relationships is between husband and wife, let scriptures say what they do, let jokes on wife be legion, and let several individual relationships be bizarre. What husband gives is not material wealth only, and what wife gives is not to be equated with stree-dhan. MB and Ramayana state not a wish, but an expression of genuine bond that develops naturally between husband and wife, fostered through children. While in Ramayana, it is expressed through Sita, in MB a bird says it.

26/2/2011

எண்ணற்ற மற்றவர் உழைப்பை நாம் அனுபவித்து ஜீவித்திருக்கிறோம். வள்ளுவர் வாக்குப்படி உழுதுண்டு வாழ்வாரைத் தொழுதுண்டு வாழ்கின்றோம். நம் உழைப்பாலும் பிறர் பயனடைய வேண்டும் என்ற நோக்கத்தோடு நாம் செயல்பட வேண்டும். இதுவே உயர்ந்த குறி, வாழ்வின் ரஹசஸ்யம், பிறவிப் பயன்.

July 09, 2014
Sex, morals and vegetarianism
Y.Soni: Mahatma Gandhi practised brahmcharya after a certain age. The premise, though just a conjecture, was that not letting go may be helping in longevity and general well being.

Kv Chellappa Rajaji also practised Brahmacharya as he was widowed early in life. These may be exceptions. A normal life is one where one uses his faculties and energy without excess and in harmony with nature.
Two things: First, sex is good with morality. Morality is not just normative, it is based on physical and psychological health. Second, anything is good to the extent you can afford and enjoy it. Even exercise that strains may be harmful. The message in anything that comes to us has to be taken as is appropriate to us. Luckily, we pass on all messages and pass it over.
Meat eating seems to have been common in Vedic times. Agastya was served goat's meat in a sraddha. The goat was a rakshasa metamorphosed. Agastya does not allow him to get out of his stomach, as was the rakshasa's wont. There are many instances. Rama ate meat. Lakshmana would hunt and bring the game which was cooked and eaten. A Pouranika said that meat-eating was prohibited for Brahmins in Kali Yuga only. That still meant meat-eating was not prohibited for others. Historians tell us that vegetarianism is a change introduced by Buddhists and Jains. Asceticism and taboo on sex also have come from these religions, it would appear. Hinduism kept changing assimilating many things. I heard that we have taken many things from the invaders also. Is meat-eating a sin? Since it involves killing, it is a sin. We commit many sins like that for our living. We can reason that our suffering is because of such sins.
Verily, we are characterised by our choices. In fact, we should appreciate people by their choices and not results. Results depend on many factors, most of which are even beyond our grasp. To digress, I would look at Modi for what he chooses to do; he may fail, but not fall in my esteem. Despite the imponderables, our choices (choice has no meaning if efforts are not directed in its train, just as a paper decision is a statement of wish - that is Drucker) have consequences. That is Karma. Well, it is a vast subject. Vegetarianism is good or bad on factors other than the percentage that adopt it. The correct position may be amoral, it is not to be subjected to moral judgement at all. 

June 20, 2014
Age
From my diary (2/10/2002)
Youth has tenderness, curiosity and capacity for experimentation, a buoyancy- all of which lend meaning for beauty. For this beauty to sustain, one has to go through life carefully- experimenting but not recklessly, acquiring wisdom from both observation and experience. As one matures, it is grace and magnanimity, a near insensitivity to hurt at others' words and actions and a sensibility not to hurt others, that bring acceptability. Aged ones with such attitude are really beautiful. The physical charm has sweetly metamorphosed in them to an inner beauty that is radiant and penetrative.

June 16, 2014
Nothing
From my diary (21/12/2010) We live in a world of make-believe. We have covered by many layers what is essentially nothing. Onion when peeled successively leaves nothing behind. There is nothing inside to discover. The Shunyata of Buddhism, the Chidaambara rahasyam, etc. point to this.
30/12/2002 I stare into emptiness. There was emptiness in the beginning and there will be emptiness in the end. Emptiness is all-pervasive. The emptiness becomes creative with waves that are caused for no known reason. The disturbance of emptiness divides human minds into matter and spirit. The so-called posthumous glory in the presence of God is an expression of inveterate human vanity. To disappear into emptiness is frightening.  
6/9/2005 Life is hollow. It gets the stuff you put in.



June 06, 2014
Control
There is a grocery shop next door to our house. As I met an ex-colleague in the bank near the shop, he observed that the business of the retailer has gone up several times, judging by the time taken to unload the arrival of replenishment now as compared to a year ago. A keen observation! I mentioned it to the retailer and suggested to him to open a departmental store. He remarked, ‘Yes. I can scale up, but maintaining will be an issue.’ What he meant was control. That is the key to business. Business flounders not by size, but for lack of control.
What I read in Drucker flashed in my mind. He says that it is not the size, but span of control that determines viability. He adds that dinosaurs became extinct not owing to size, but inability of brain to co-ordinate. I also read how fast a body can move is determined by control system and not by magnitude. A plane travels very fast, but mostly safely thanks to the control system. I also remember a teacher explaining how uniform speed resembles state of rest (a bullock cart moves slowly, but you can scarcely read or write travelling in it, a bus is a little better, a train much better, and a plane almost perfect save when it hits air-pockets). The heavenly bodies hurtle at great speed, including the earth, but we hardly feel it.
In the eighties, James Raj Committee said SBI was too big and should be split up. One counter-argument that was put up was that if small were manageable, banks of the size of Dena Bank must have been more healthy, but they were not. Good sense prevailed and JR report was shelved. SBI has grown by leaps and bounds since and has survived.
(In lighter vein: As someone working in the bank, it appeared a miracle. Well-meaning efforts to derail it have come unstuck. Those who wonder why I believe in God should read this.)

 April 18, 2014
Contentment
Contentment is dicey advice. It cannot be universal advice. Samkara says, 'Gratify your mind with wealth earned by your own efforts.' Avvaiyar says, 'Earn going overseas if necessary.' Both have given sumptuous didactic poetry. Both have led a spartan life, not attached to the snares of the world. When I am paid to do a job, I cannot be contented without doing it. When I marry and raise a family, I cannot be contented without providing for them. Contentment is being resigned to what comes after reasonable, purposive and diligent effort. It is not acquiescence at status quo.

8.4.2008
The older generation is not passing down the age-old wisdom. the ants these days climb the stove, considered a taboo for them in my young days.

From my diary of 2008:
People who have failed become gurus. Those who have not led a married life advise how to lead a happy family life. those who have not run an organisation or run one disastrously become management consultants. Several music teachers also have not much to write home about of their own performance.


February 28, 2014
FORWARDS
I receive a number of forwards every day. So would all that are connected in net.
As I was turning in bed expecting the elusive sleep, my mind did a taxonomy of the forwards. Taxonomy is normally done of living things. Forwards are very much alive though fleetingly. Life as we experience is itself fleeting, isn’t it?
There are those that forward everything by click of a button as it were. It reminds me of my work experience. I saw a colleague of mine with his table free of papers always and mentioned this in lunch talk. His boss quipped, “Why will it not be? He marks everything to me either for information or instruction.” I realized how useful talking shop at lunch could be, but my boss was not as genial a soul.
Then, there are some who sit and sort them deleting the original forward reference and making it appear as emanating from them. After a few forwards, it becomes clear as the former type has preempted him and you get a feeling of déjà vu though the exact trace-back to the earlier message may not strike you.
Some add comments like ‘wonderful’ and so on raising your expectation though your sense of wonder may turn out to be at variance with theirs.
On the subject of the forwards one sees a variety. Some are versatile covering a wide gamut from sex to spirituality (not that the two are wide apart, but that they alliterate).
Some persist with double entendre.
Some forward tenaciously health advice, often extolling the miracles packed in simple things like ginger and turmeric. I would imagine initially that pharmacies would shut shop in view of such powerful remedies available dirt cheap, with what naiveté!
Some send contents, missing which would be a serious error and a huge missed opportunity.
Some send messages that have to be forwarded to 50 or so people for receiving special favours, what is worse, failure to do so would incur scourge from heaven (My heavens, if it sends scourges, why is it called heaven?)
Well, I can go on, but I need to stop to check the forwards.

January 18, 2014
Haste is waste
Doing things fast may be a source of boredom. Unoccupied time is boredom. If work is done spread over time, it reduces unoccupied time. Parkinson’s Law is nothing more than statement of human tendency to avoid idle time. Except when time has to be solidified into useful work either for human welfare or economic gain, it does not pay to hurry. Efficiency also is not in speed, but in delivery of the right oods/services in good time. Speed often lends itself open to waste or redoing thus curtailing efficiency/productivity.




December 02, 2013
Talk with Mr. Ramaswamy
Mr.Ramaswamy* did much talking. He was involved in one institute called Institute of Hindu Studies. I took a brochure from him with the commitment to work for it. He claimed that Indian sages had discovered several phenomena attributed to western scientists long back by the process of meditation. 82 such phenomena are listed in the brochure. I wondered whether we had developed science but not technology and also whether we should start from the present level of knowledge or from where the sages have left. He remarked that we need to acknowledge the contribution by India, which is not publicised enough. I opined that in India we have two issues, one is number and the other culture. R gave a contrarian view regarding population. Suppose our population today is 100 million and not 1000 million, it would have been, say, 20 million in 1800 and the Europeans would have run over India like they have done in other places and we may be living as tribals. The Europeans have colonised Americas, Australia and part of Africa, destroying the aboriginal culture and reducing the natives to second class citizens. If they had stayed put in Europe, their number would have been oppressive. He said, prompted by a sardarji close at hand, that the Punjabis were the gatekeepers for our culture. We would have lost everything but for their brave resistance. They have seen 69 invasions. No temple of the stature of the South Indian ones could be maintained there because of the invasions. He acknowledged that unlike the other invaders the British did not destroy our culture. But for the British, we would have become a Muslim nation. He presided over a seminar on conversion. The dalits said that they would convert if a mass conversion could be organised. The Muslims said that it would have been easy if partition had not taken place because the number of Muslims would have been large enough to steamroller conversions. Partition is a blessing in disguise. He advised that we should have a few aims in life, as many and as diverse as possible and that all our actions (whatever we do) should be focused on those aims. That will give a sense of purpose. Mr. Ramaswamy (no more) was founder of IIM, Bengaluru and a recipient of several awards.


October 28, 2004
Problem
A lot of people are busy offering us solutions to our problems. It is worth examining whether we have a problem and if it requires outside help. A number of problems are situational or caused by our mind set. They either pass on their own or abate when we relax. Think well before engaging with a healer.
*



Charity and getting cheated
It is difficult to say when charity is deserved and who the best judge is in this regard. Any money that has gone out of us is not ours until it comes back. Losing money hurts more than in money terms. All os lose money some time or other. Charity is parting with money for a cause that we consider worthy. We may find later that what we thought was charity was a neat swindle. It hurts again even though we did not expect the money back.
Mrs Murthy tells of an incident in USA. A mother helps a poor lady who wants money to treat her child for some deadly disease. Her son smells a rat and dissuades her. The mother helps nevertheless. Later a newspaper report appears about the lady being a cheat, that her child never had any disease and that it was only a pretence to cheat people. The son shows it to her mother exultantly. The mother, after reading it, tells him calmly that she was happy to know that the lady's son did not really have any deadly disease. Looks incredible but edifying.
People make a living in ever so many ways, cheating is also in the list, and in great variety.


We must stop asking questions at some stage. At what stage? Reason would tell us that we must stop until we are satisfied. Satisfaction is not dependent on the question or answer, but us. We do not easily realise this. We think that there is an objective answer and everyone is going to reach it with effort. That works with mathematics and logic, but not in anything connected with life. We are at various stages and all are not going to reach the same stage. While our progress to relativity is commendable, it is not life-defining. I have no belief that we will one day solve everything and after that we can relax. Maybe that will be the doomsday!
The stage at which we stop depends on our ability to understand not reason.
It foxed me in ‘limit’, precursor to calculus, why we do not apply ‘Δx = 0’ to start with and only at a later stage. So, too with god. At some stage we give up as inexplicable. Why not at the start? Why assume god who seems scared of us and is hiding?
The same problem with me. Why do I insanely work on such irrelevant issues?



Rules, Ethics, and Epics
Is there a distinction between rule and ethics? If a rule allows a thing, is there any other consideration that is imperative?
There is public opinion. Public opinion follows unwritten rules. It may be divided.
In Ramayana, Ravana stands forlorn in battle with Rama. Rama could have killed him and there would be no stigma, but Rama let Ravana off. He would rather that Ravana was reformed than killed. In today’s world, that may misfire.
In contrast, Karna was stuck with his chariot wheel not moving and Krishna tells Arjuna not to spare him as it would be difficult to find another chance to kill Karna, and Karna was appealing for consideration which he overlooked in several instances.



The road to a great nation is founded on truth, quest for knowledge and unremitting application. Do we see that?

I have written before on the list of flaws:

1.         Corruption. It is touted, was it Dr. Radhakrishnan who said it first, that Hinduism is a way of life. Maybe thanks to post-independence culture, that has lost its sheen. But, it is a fact of life that corruption is a way of life. Some would say that there is no difference. Corruption is indigenous, we can proudly say. We do not owe it to the Moghuls or the British.

2.         Scant regard to law. The great facilitator for this is the first, you can bribe your way and flout the law. There is also this idea that one is powerful to the extent one can flout the law.

3.         India is a spiritual nation, Vivekananda said and even convinced the world. But, we have slowly changed it. We are after money and material things in a big way. I am not asking for a reversal, but the way we are materialist, we have no locus standi to call the west materialist. For a small gain, we will pledge our soul.

4.         We do not care for our surroundings and fellowmen. That is a striking difference between the west, Japan, even Malaysia, and us. We do not care for manners. Touching the feet of elders is not the touchstone of manners.

Bharathi Baskar (a debater and orator) described in her characteristic style a common occurrence. A man was waiting for a bus at peak hour and begged those already hanging out for just enough space to put a foot and hold a hand. He used his skill to gain foothold for both feet and within a few stops nudged his way in and also managed to get a window seat. When the bus was about to stop at the next stop he shouted to the conductor, ‘Why don’t you give double whistle and carry on? Where is space?’

This is a bit of an exaggeration, but a basic trait that manifests variously. We do not realise that our well-being is associated with that of our fellowmen.

5.         We do not care for time and timeliness. Blaming it on the traffic is a cheap pretext everyone uses. That is a cruel joke on the others who go and wait after having waded through the same traffic.

In India, status symbols are:

Not wishing back;

Turning up late;

Breaking the queue, law, etc.

Letting juniors pick up the bills.

6.         It is understandable that the fields of entertainment and sports are main lines for some, but it is crazy that a large section of society pay more attention to them to the detriment of their own avocation.

7. Putting the blame on others for our failure. In school, when a student fails, the blame is cast on the teacher who had some grudge on the student. Or, it is fate, some bad deed of past birth, in this one we are saints.

8. Deep-rooted caste system for which the cause is identified as Brahmins (a miserable minority and effectively excluded from government mostly) persecuting whom is the solution. Fighting elections on caste equations and reservations based on caste are never the cause for its perpetuation.

9. Recommendation culture. We seek recommendation (I claim no virtue) for anything from jumping a queue or getting a train reservation. When I was on an interview panel many candidates brought some recommendation. I remarked to a colleague, ‘Not getting recommendation in any form will be a disqualification.’ Even in sports and awards, it is at times based on some equations and recommendations.

10. Merit-based system not seriously in place. Where it is (IITs and IIMs mostly) we see good results.

No government wants to even talk of this canker at the root. All are busy just trimming the twigs. Until we get down to basics and make way for an orderly society that depends on good work and belief in discipline, we are a long way off from becoming a great nation. 

Eating
Eating is the most essential activity of life.
There are two problems with eating.
1. A great many do not have enough to eat. (Undernutriton). 
2. Many have everything to eat and believe that they should eat everything to heart’s content and as often as they feel like. (Health hazard).
There is a saying, ‘சுசி ருசி பாத்து சாப்பிடணும்.’ (One must look at cleanliness and taste while eating.) It is significant that cleanliness is first. There is a puritanical thinking that tasty things are unhealthy. It cannot be so because nature has provided us with taste buds for choosing food.
Being careful of what and where we eat, and being mindful while eating, and knowing when to stop will make us healthy and we need not bother about the low doctor ratio in the country.



The Other Side
‘Spend it. Don’t leave it.’
This is another advice that one gets periodically.
To have sufficient money itself gives comfort for the bad day when we may have to enrich doctors and hospitals, or even basic necessities in a majority of cases. If we know how long we would live and what contingencies may arise, we may spend more liberally. What happens to the money we leave behind is of no value to a dead man. If we so wish we can leave a will allocating it for noble causes. 
My maxim is that I should spend as much as I feel like regardless of how much I have, but within what I have.


Gandhi may be a saint, but a politician-saint, said a lecturer in Loyola. He was in politics where compromises are inevitable. The greatness of Gandhi should be judged from the good work he has done, not marred by the blunders in politics. It was wrong to credit him with the achievement of independence, which came because of the sacrifice of thousands of people whose names even are not known, and by efflux of time. In hindsight, it would have come anyway. But, Gandhi’s method was unique and commends itself. In a world where violence is the reigning monarch, the message of non-violence is acutely relevant.
Many of our leaders made it a policy that protecting the Muslims at any cost was needed. That has not fostered religious amity, instead it has engulfed the people. Gandhi was seen as a ‘Hindu’ in derogatory terms by Jinnah and he has not won the affection of the community. What was needed was that we should not see any issue on religious lines, but from the criterion of what is fair in a given context, and support what is fair. Only fairness can win convincingly. The policy of blind support of one group or another is flawed ab initio and can only divide us further and further. Unfortunately, there is no one in politics today who will see issues divorced from religion. Even the western press, The Economist included, is severely blinkered, and sees all issues as ‘Hindu’ or ‘Muslim’ or ‘Christian’, and encourage news that stacks facts arbitrarily to endorse a preconceived conclusion. Sense is called for, but it is in hiding.
Just as Gandhi was not the chief architect of India’s independence, he is also not a chief contributor to any of our problems today. We should let him rest in his grave which a mad fanatic prepared.





Dog – a few ‘stray’ thoughts
1. “The dog was the first animal domesticated .. from about 15000 years ago. Dogs were used for hunting and fighting, and as an alarm system against wild beasts and human intruders.” “A 15000-year bond has yielded a much deeper understanding and affection between humans and dogs than between human and any other animal.” Yuval Noah Harari.
2. A dog is not just a watchdog, but much more. It is an emotional companion.
3. I read long ago that a doctor in London wrote in the case sheet of her patient, ‘She cares more for her dog than for her husband.’
4. The dog barks alright, but stops also!
5. I see how the dog is useful for practising control and exercise. I see people running to keep pace with the dog, or holding the leash with all the force in the world (maybe it will beat the best engine in HP).
6. I am dead scared of dogs. Its bark even from a house duly tethered makes my blood curl. Once bitten twice shy, literally. I was bitten in teens by a dog only because I tried to retrieve a ball which naughtily took cover under the tree where the dog was tied. It is a nightmare to walk in my locality which is the capital of Bengaluru dogs.
7. Robert Browning, how cheap of him, condemns dogs and adds apes to their company (not bad, we are siblings of apes after all). “What is time? Leave it to apes and dogs.’
8. Devdutt Pattanaik reminds us of unsavoury things:
“In traditional Hindu society, dogs are considered inauspicious. ..
Dogs were associated with death, as well as with pollution.
The earliest mention of the dog is in the Rigveda. In the Rigveda, we hear of a bitch called Sarama, who belongs to Indra, and helps in seeking out the cows of Indra, stolen by the Panis. So, one can consider Sarama as a hunting dog or a watchdog of Indra. Sarama’s children came to be called the Sarameya, and all the dogs in the world are considered to have descended from her. Specifically, the Rigveda mentions Shama and Shabala, the two children of Sarama, who are four-eyed animals, constantly associated with Yamaraj.


9. Phrases with ‘dog’:
‘Dog eat dog’ for fierce competition
Dog’s life for wretched life
‘Call a dog a bad name to hang it’ for condemning someone unreasonably
‘Go to the dogs’ for deteriorating
‘A dog in the manger’ for someone who neither enjoys not lets another enjoy.
10. “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.”
—Andy Rooney (contributor, 60 Minutes)


What’s in a name?
The founders of PNB spelt ‘Punjab’ rather than ‘Panjab’ presumably because ‘u’ in the word ‘pun’ corresponds to the sound in ‘Punjab’. But the perverse English would pronounce it as ‘पुन्जाब्’ for some reason. Even though they would have heard all Indians pronounce it the right way, it is beneath their dignity to learn from pagans. Boycott took sweet revenge on them by saying insistently रून for ‘run’.
The English distorted all our proper names just as they did to our culture. For instance, Kanchipuram became ‘Conjeevaram’. Probably they heard this apocryphal story: A devotee while approaching Varadaraja temple said aloud ‘Kanji Varadappa’. A starving beggar at the entrance asked eagerly, ‘Where?’
When the names were being restored, the pseudo-intellectuals were upset that we were defacing history. The vandalizing history of the recent past is to them more important than the longer history which created magnificent art and culture which the recent history defaced, if not destroyed. Even now many consider it inferior to say ‘Bengaluru’, ‘Mysuru’, etc.
Ennamo ponga sir vellaikkaaran namba mele vellai adicchi moonjiyile kari poosittu poyittaan.


(The white people have whitewashed us and blackened our face).



Way to peace in the world
Impossible conditions
1.    Stop all false promises. False promises emanate from politics, religion and commerce. People try to dominate and rule over others’ minds and promise things that are chimera. Such promises raise expectations and heightened consciousness which is impossible to control.
2.    Stop all conversions. Religion is the major source of conflicts. It is a ridiculous claim that any religion can get us a utopia. There is absolutely no evidence or indication of a better place to occupy by some incantation or prayer. Since science has debunked the myths of religions, some religions shut out science even today. Such obscurantism must stop.
3.    Destroy all weapons.
4.    Make use of bio-power as far as possible.
5.    Avoid synthetics.
Just as this is a mad list, the hope of a world without conflicts and with abiding peace is also a mad one. So long as religion, politics and commerce rule, there will be strife, tension and disquiet. All we can do is desist from creating breach of peace as individuals. We should also work for peace no matter that the odds are against.

உலகிலே சாந்தி நிலவ வேண்டும் (peace must prevail in the world)



I take things seriously. So told a customer to me.
I think I did. After joining the bank I read the Book of Instructions (BOI), a distinguishing feature of State Bank of India. I came in it for the first time the expression, ‘moral turpitude.’ Law students and brighter ones with good general knowledge (I do not claim any particular knowledge either) would not have been new to it.
I realised that experience rather than books or dictionary is a better teacher. I also realised that ‘moral turpitude’ classified as gross misconduct by the short-sighted Scotsmen (who started the Imperial Bank and produced the BOI) is often a qualification for career prospects. I also see that it is a distinguishing trait of many who hold high office or parade in public glare.


A staff to whom I was attached for understudy taught me that law and practice of banking are two different things and that is why Tannan titled his book as ‘Law and Practice of Banking.’ Possibly, the long time courts took to decide whether a cheque drawn in favour of SBI could be credited to Harshad Mehta’s account was because of such dichotomy.
(Pl do not take me seriously!)


All about gay!
When I was a student and learnt that 'gaiety' is the abstract noun for 'gay', I was pleased with the knowledge of a weird word formation. I never imagined for a long time that 'gay' itself would become weird in meaning. I am gay in the old sense of the word!
Is gay natural? Two men feel an attraction for each other and it is obviously natural, so runs the argument. It may be good in no mean way if gays and lesbians abound and the earth is unburdened of unwanted human beings.
But, the way of nature is that it wants to perpetuate life and the heterosexual attraction is nature’s choice. So biologically homosexuality is not the idea of nature.
Is it a sin? We should get rid of the idea of sin. We should look at what is socially desirable and what is not. There is no sin – duplicate or original. The idea of sin has caused more real suffering than sin.
Will homosexuality lead to any aberrations in evolution, or even extinction of human species? Scientists may know, but nature will decide.
I wondered why the gays must bother about marriage, but a friend put mw wise saying that it matters in succession, etc.
When a gay referred to his partner as ‘my husband’, I was confused. How do they decide who is the husband? Then I thought that each is the husband of the other. Some problem like about twins! But, why should it bother me? The same way FB bothers me. As I was writing this, I heard Malladi brothers sing, ‘Makelara vicharamu?’



Stoicism
A comment by a friend made me look for ‘what is stoicism’ more intimately. Googling got me a good link – appended. I also give a gist.
After reading it, I find that I am not a stoic either in principle (I do not believe that human beings are rational – I am a fine example), or in practice (I get perturbed easily as my FB posts betray). But, I am a stoic in a way because I believe that knowledge is supreme, not faith. Knowledge in my sense of reckoning, does not accrue just by reasoning and analysis, often that clouds thinking by trying to be logical against the inner urge and experience, but more by tuning ourselves to nature and its subtle messages received intuitively. Knowledge must lead to assurance in self and reticence, as each person has a valid experience and we cannot summate them under a formula. Just as my experience is my guide, so is it for anyone else. We must accept each other.
Gist
Stoicism was a school founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium around 301 BC.
Three Stoic principal leaders: Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca
“Stoicism teaches how to keep a calm and rational mind no matter what happens to you and it helps you understand and focus on what you can control and not worry about and accept what you can't control.”
A. 10 principles
1.Live in Agreement with Nature – The Stoic Goal of Life
The ultimate goal of life was agreed by all ancient schools of philosophy to be ‘Eudaimonia’. Eudaimonia – is a bit tricky to translate. Think of it as the supreme happiness or fulfilment attainable by human beings.
‘Living in agreement with nature’ is about behaving rationally like a human instead of randomly (and out of passion) like a beast.
2 Live by Virtue – It Is the Highest of All Goods
What the Stoics meant with ‘virtue’ was excelling or flourishing in terms of our rational human nature. .. ‘Virtue’ really refers to excelling at one’s own character and applying reason in a manner that’s healthy and praiseworthy. .. The Stoics classified these different forms of virtue under four broad headings, the four cardinal virtues:
Wisdom or Prudence (vidya, gnanam)
Justice or Fairness (samatvam)
Courage or Fortitude (dhairyam)
Self-Discipline or Temperance (yama and niyama)
Virtue must be its own reward. You do something because it is the right thing to do. Doing the right thing is enough, it’s your nature and it’s your job. (Cf. Buddha’s teaching).
3 Focus on What You Can Control, Accept What You Can’t
(This message comes like a refrain in Swami Paramrthananda’s discourse on Gita.)
Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. ‘Up to us’ are our voluntary choices, namely our actions and judgements. Thoughts, judgements, actions are up to us; everything else like body, health and death, job, wealth and reputation, outside events and other people’s actions, are not up to us.
“It makes us completely and utterly responsible for the single most important thing in life, depriving us of any excuses for not flourishing and attaining the best possible life, because this is always within our grasp.” Donald Robertson
“We can control our behavior but not their outcomes – let alone the outcomes of other people’s behaviours.” Massimo Pigliucci (Cf. karmanyevadhikaraste).
4 Distinguish Between Good, Bad, and (‘Preferred’) Indifferent Things
The good things include the cardinal virtues; the bad things include the opposites of these virtues (folly, injustice, cowardice, and indulgence). Indifferent things include all the rest, but mainly health, wealth, and reputation.
We should learn to be ‘indifferent towards indifferent things’ and learn to be satisfied with whatever nature puts on our plates.
Stoics differentiated between ‘preferred’ and ‘dispreferred’ indifferent things. Indifferent things such as good health, friendship, wealth, and good looks were classified as preferred indifferents, while their opposites were dispreferred indifferents.
People will always prefer joy over pain, wealth over poverty, and good health over sickness – so go ahead and look for those things, but in accord with virtue.
It is not what you have or don’t have but what you do with it that matters.
5 Take Action – The True Philosopher Is a Warrior of the Mind
Donald Robertson, “Events are not determined to happen in a particular way, regardless of what you do, but rather along with what you do… The outcome of events still often depends on your actions.” (ma sangostvakarmani.)
Stoics were doers. .. A stoic goes out in the world and practises his ideas.
6 Practise Misfortune – Ask “What Could Go Wrong?”
The Stoics vaccinated themselves for misfortune. (Tapas is perhaps the Indian equivalent. Sri Ramana simulating death is perhaps a case in point.)
Be ready for things to go differently than planned. Have a backup plan.
Seneca is saying that we’d be crazy to want to face difficulty in life. But we’d be equally crazy to think that it isn’t going to happen.
7 Add a Reserve Clause to Your Planned Actions
8 Amor Fati – Love Everything that Happens
“Seek not for events to happen as you wish but rather wish for events to happen as they do and your life will go smoothly.” – Epictetus
Imagine a dog leashed to a moving cart. The leash is long enough that the dog has two options: (1) either he can smoothly follow the direction of the cart, over which he has no control, and at the same time enjoy the ride and explore the surroundings, (2) or he can stubbornly resist the cart with all his force and end up being dragged for the rest of the trip anyway.
Ryan Holiday, “To get upset by things is to wrongly assume that they will last… To resent change is to wrongly assume that you have a choice in the matter.”
Accepting whatever happens, has nothing to do with giving up.
9 Turn Obstacles into Opportunities – Perception Is Key
Do not get carried away by initial impression about external, but (1) look at the events objectively and (2) choose to use them for their best.
10 Be Mindful – Stoic Mindfulness Is Where it All Begins
We basically give up being philosophers, and Stoics, when we are not mindful, when we act on autopilot and forget about what we’re doing.
Take 5 minutes each night and go through your day and find opportunities where you could improve.
B. What Does a Stoic Look Like?
The Classic Misconception – Stoics Are Unemotional. The feelings are normal. But the Stoic tries to not act out of feeling but out of reason. The Stoic is not a man of stone without any feelings. He does have feelings but he is not enslaved by them.
Donald Robertson:
“A brave man isn’t someone who doesn’t experience any trace of fear whatsoever but someone who acts courageously despite feeling anxiety. A man who has great self-discipline or restraint isn’t someone who feels no inkling of desire but someone who overcomes his cravings, by abstaining from acting upon them.”
Stoic Ryan Holidays:
“Real strength lies in the control or, as Nassim Taleb put it, the domestication of one’s emotions, not in pretending they don’t exist.”
“A good person ‘displays love for all his fellow human beings, as well as goodness, justice, kindness and concern for his neighbour’, and for the welfare of his home city.” – Donald Robertson
We live in accord with virtue and therefore benefit ourselves when we act for the common welfare. Also, the better a person has developed himself, the better he can serve mankind. As Rudolf Steiner said, “If the rose adorns itself, it adorns the garden.”
Do good for the sake of doing good. Expect nothing in return.
Don’t hate the wrongdoer, he does not know any better.
True Beauty Lies in Character. .. The true value of a person lies in their core, their character or personality, and it does not matter if it’s a banker or baker.
https://www.njlifehacks.com/what-is-stoicism-overview-defi…/



Is an artist bigger than art?
There are no two ways about it. Art represents the combined treasure of many artists over a long period of time and it is impossible for any individual to have all that treasure in his possession. This idea of how an individual has severe limitations and that humility marks accomplishment is found in several pithy sayings:
स्वाध्यायान्-मा प्रमदः
विद्या ददाति विनयं (Kanchi Paramacharya, Sri Ramana and Albert Einstein are real life examples that come to mind.)
Pride goes on horseback, but returns on foot.
கற்றது கைம்மண்ணளவென்று உற்ற கலைமடந்தை ஓதுகிறாள்.
Sometimes one lapses into an abstract idea of art as though it can exist without performers, like one believes soul exists without body. That will be a flaw. Vedas attained a textual status with Vediyars having dwindled, and Kanchi Acharya took steps for Vedic learning and chanting to revive. Art esp. music cannot be some documents and audios. We need performers in a parampara as is happening thankfully.
There will appear individuals that think a world of themselves. We have to pray like Jesus, ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do'. We must leave them severely alone lest they get puffed up more.



Tamizh idioms
Just to while away the time (as if other posts are life and death issues)
ஊசி போயிடுத்து (Oosi poyidutthu)
Gone off.
If you split a vada that has gone off, you will see a fine thread, as though someone has put it in using a needle (oosi).
பிரமம் போல இருக்கான் (Brahmam pola irukkaan).
He is like Brahman.
Gnanis would love it, but it describes someone who is wooden, apathetic.
அஞ்ஞானமே இல்லை (agnaaname ille).
This again looks like laudatory (no ignorance), but stands for having no attachment. Attachment is because of agnaanam.
காலமாயிட்டான் (kaalamaayittaan).
Died.
I have posted this exclusively once. Literally, it means one has become time or merged with time.
கொடுத்து வச்சது அவ்வளவுதான்.
Another philosophic expression about lack of luck or some disappointment.
That is all we have saved, it implies, conveying that we reap as we sow.
கூப்பிடு தூரத்திலே இருக்கு (kooppidu dooratthile irukku).
Is within earshot.
There was a Vikatan joke fifty years ago. A traveller wanted to know the distance to a place and the villager said ‘kooppidu dooratthile irukku’. The traveller walked quite some distance to reach the place. While returning he saw the villager and said that it was quite far and how he said that it was within earshot. The villager replied, ‘If I call out, one can hear at such a distance.’
கவலை பாயறது (kavalai paayarathu).
Kavalai stands for a method of irrigation. When water is poured from the vessel, it would flow wayward. The expression is used when someone while reciting, say, Vishnusahasranamam, latches on to a different line because of the same word occurring in more than one place.

காலிலே வெந்நீர் கொட்டிண்டு இருக்கான் (kaalil venneer kottindu irukkaan).
He looks like having poured hot water on his foot.
Used to describe a person in unseemly hurry.
நாக்கு நீளம் (naakku neeLam).
Long tongue.
Describes a person who is hypercritical of taste or loud-mouthed.

(Someone may comment வேலையத்த அமட்டன் பூனை தலையை சரச்சானாம் – a barber with no work shaved the head of a cat.)



Vegetarianism
Sri K Parasaran, an orthodox Srivaishnavite and vegetarian, said in a speech that if everyone turned vegetarian, there will not be enough food for all.
Yuval Noah Harari says in ‘Sapiens’ that Agricultural Revolution, when Sapiens switched from being a forager to being a farmer, was a disaster in the evolution of Sapiens. It multiplied and intensified problems, he argues rather convincingly.
Russell says that organic life depends on other organic life, except plants which convert inorganic material to organic matter.
There is difference of opinion whether man is suited for one or the other type of food. To start with, he lived on herbs and fruits, then took to foraging before discovering tilling of land, it would appear. Be that as it may, he is omnivorous now.
We have serious issues about sustained viability of agriculture. Scarcity of water and infertility of land because of overuse and economics may make farming unattractive. As it stands, agriculturists are at the receiving end (not of proper price). Agriculture depends on subsidy and price support even in developed countries. When we pay through the nose for foodgrains and vegetables, the beneficiaries are hoarders and the middlemen, not agriculturists.
Vegetarianism is certainly an evolved virtue born of felt need for compassion, but its universal adoption is neither possible nor advisable.


(My svabhava is not synchronous with my opinion. I cannot accept killing at least in my presence unless the victims are small insects that cause harm persistently, and I cannot eat non-vegetarian food.)


Monkey tricks
The assembly session has ended.
A few monkeys have been active in my neighbourhood.
I found that water was coming from the terrace. I was puzzled whether the overhead tank was overflowing, but the motor was off. I went to the terrace and was surprised to find the tap in the terrace open and water draining off. As there are no children who would have meddled with the tap, I could not make out who would have opened it. As I came down, I saw a monkey on the parapet wall. That solved the mystery. It had happened before also. I brought some chord and tied the tap valve and found that the valve could not be turned. But, I did not allow for the monkey wrench! A day later the same thing recurred. I made it tighter, but am keeping fingers crossed.
The next day as I emerged into the bed room I saw a monkey sitting near the balcony door. It did not stir. I took a stick and waved it at the monkey. It left reluctantly. As I stepped into the balcony, I saw another monkey with the Vaseline dubba. I tried flailing my hands and making noise, but the monkey jumped into the next building with the Vaseline firmly in its grip. It sat on the sill of the next building window and stared eating the Vaseline. When it could scoop no more, it dropped it in the next compound as the software youth living in groves in BTM throw things around. That Vaseline could be food for monkey was new. I thought paraffin wax was a laxative and the famished monkey might have had further exhaustion. Poor thing!
Some atavistic reconnection!



TN was perhaps the first state to demand secession from Indian union. Kashmir has been simmering, seething and boiling over for a long time. NE has little to identify with the bulky part of India. Shiv Sena in Mumbai was perhaps the first to stoke the fire of the ‘sons of the soil’ theory. Almost all states now make it a point that knowledge of the lingua franca of the state is a must for surviving in the state economically. We have this the latest: ‘1st in India: AP reserves 75% of pvt jobs for locals’. Hindi dominance will further accentuate the divisions.
India is not a homogeneous nation. What works for Japan or China may not work for us. We need to rethink the concept of union and debate federal set-up. We are more like Europe or USA. The idea of uniting India under one language or one faith will severely backfire. We should work within the diversity and plurality giving a sense of control for various regions before the situation gets out of control and we have many Kashmirs.
Will Durant about the decadence of Persian empire: “Nor is it natural that nations diverse in language, religion, morals and traditions should long remain united; there is nothing organic in such a union, and compulsion must repeatedly be applied to maintain the artificial bond.”
It is about conquered nations, but has some relevance for us.



Politics was perhaps ever the same.
Reading history as story (Will Durant) I find that politicians always did immoral things to get to power and remain in power.
"Politics is the art of the possible." “Politics is art of gaining power and craft of retaining it.”
The rosy picture we read of Asoka, Akbar, Rajaraja Chozha, etc. is a generalization that may overlook their misdeeds. Even during the independence struggle which unified us for once, there were murky happenings. It is not as though MKG always acted nobly; he acted politically much of the time. A friend of mine always mentions his supporting the khilafat movement as a gross blunder. MKG supported JLN overlooking Bose, Patel, etc. which may be questionable. He did not derive personal advantage, but that does not make it apolitical.
Even in USA we see how a lot of dirt is thrown around by all politicians.
While there is no justification for the depravity that we see, it is not the end of the world. Slightly better times will dawn sooner or later. That is not reasoned optimism, but hope in cyclicity of good and bad.



World
What is world?
No, I am not sharing my advaita thoughts.
Normally, we think of the world as all that is on earth. Sometimes it is also used to refer to universe or cosmos.
But, in several expressions it is not characteristic or representative of the entire world.
World wars were not fought in the whole of the world, not even in most parts. Both the world wars started in Europe and was fought principally by Europeans. Still, as Europe is all that matters in the world, both were called world wars.
Out of some concession for the lesser mortals, they are content to be called the first world, the communists are the second world and the insignificant ones are dubbed the third world.
Will Durant finishes Asia, the most populous and the seat of several ancient civilisations, in one of eleven volumes of The Story of Civilisation and is dismissively apologetic, ‘We have passed in unwilling haste through four thousand years of history, and over the richest civilisations of the largest continent.’ It is understandable since his market was not the third world.
Look at the world cup. Some ten nations participate, but four are European sort of and so it must be world cup! Yes, it is open to all, but is confined narrowly.
Just as we have those that claim Vedas as the origin of everything, the western thinkers invariably find a link to the Greeks. Greece is the start of the world and even Big Bang started in Greece!
Many discoveries happened earlier than the European discovery of them, but history stands in the name of Europeans.
The Europeans think a world of themselves and so do we of them.
(This is a light piece. Europeans have distinguished themselves in science, technology, organisation and order, which we lack as a people.
Sriram V’s twitter: Oh the joy some Indians experience in extolling the virtues of the British in particular and Europeans in general. They roll the names around their tongues as though it were nectar.)



The fruit vendor in front of the house was missing for a few days. He said that he received a call that his mother had fallen and that he was called home 40 kms away. She had been managing her affairs so far but might need help now. She was 95. That typifies an average Indian, taking care of the aged parents.
It was 1987. The BBC channel was on. A woman was bemoaning that her mother was not taken care of well in the old age home. That shocked me. Why did she not take care of her mother? That is western culture.
Crazy Mohan describes how he was part of a joint family and how he owed his success to the training in the joint family. Joint families were the norm till the twentieth century beginning perhaps. They did not produce many Crazy Mohans, but carried on producing crazy people, some may say. People got on with bickering and friction, but got on. There is no going back to joint family system now.
We are now progressing. Families have gone nuclear by and large since there is no NPT for families. Old age homes are on the rise.
A senior colleague has described his experience in selecting a match for his son in the form of a skit.
Husband, wife and son went to see a girl.
The girl asked the boy during the interaction, ‘What about these things?’
The boy was puzzled and asked, ‘Which things?’
The girl pointed to his parents.
The boy was annoyed, but replied politely, ‘They will be with me of course.’

The girl said, ‘That settles it. We will part as acquaintances. Do not bother. We will not charge you for the refreshments.’


Tamizh idioms
Just to while away the time (as if other posts are life and death issues)
ஊசி போயிடுத்து (Oosi poyidutthu)
Gone off.
If you split a vada that has gone off, you will see a fine thread, as though someone has put it in using a needle (oosi).
பிரமம் போல இருக்கான் (Brahmam pola irukkaan).
He is like Brahman.
Gnanis would love it, but it describes someone who is wooden, apathetic.
அஞ்ஞானமே இல்லை (agnaaname ille).
This again looks like laudatory (no ignorance), but stands for having no attachment. Attachment is because of agnaanam.
காலமாயிட்டான் (kaalamaayittaan).
Died.
I have posted this exclusively once. Literally, it means one has become time or merged with time.
கொடுத்து வச்சது அவ்வளவுதான்.
Another philosophic expression about lack of luck or some disappointment.
That is all we have saved, it implies, conveying that we reap as we sow.
கூப்பிடு தூரத்திலே இருக்கு (kooppidu dooratthile irukku).
Is within earshot.
There was a Vikatan joke fifty years ago. A traveller wanted to know the distance to a place and the villager said ‘kooppidu dooratthile irukku’. The traveller walked quite some distance to reach the place. While returning he saw the villager and said that it was quite far and how he said that it was within earshot. The villager replied, ‘If I call out, one can hear at such a distance.’
கவலை பாயறது (kavalai paayarathu).
Kavalai stands for a method of irrigation. When water is poured from the vessel, it would flow wayward. The expression is used when someone while reciting, say, Vishnusahasranamam, latches on to a different line because of the same word occurring in more than one place.

காலிலே வெந்நீர் கொட்டிண்டு இருக்கான் (kaalil venneer kottindu irukkaan).
He looks like having poured hot water on his foot.
Used to describe a person in unseemly hurry.
நாக்கு நீளம் (naakku neeLam).
Long tongue.
Describes a person who is hypercritical of taste or loud-mouthed.
(Someone may comment வேலையத்த அமட்டன் பூனை தலையை சரச்சானாம் – a barber with no work shaved the head of a cat.)


Age is in mind and mind is in body.
Ageing is natural and we age differently. There are fit nonagenarians and handicapped middle aged persons. 
There is no one who has an ageless body. 
Time passes and matters, do not be fooled by Einstein! If you do not mind time, you will miss the train, exam and important appointments. You will age whether you mind time or not.
Read everything and lead life like any buddhu does. Be yourself. Listen to both your body and mind.



I stopped an auto and told the driver our destination. He demanded a fixed fare which I refused. I did not quite hear what he said after that. I imagined that he wanted meter plus something. My wife informed me that he was agreeing to go by the metre.
That brought to mind a story my mother told me as a boy, something she must have read in a magazine.
A deaf one (that was the normal expression sixty years ago) planned to visit a friend who was ill for some time. He visualised (his sight was in order!) how the meeting would go. “I will ask him how he is and he will say ‘better’, and I will express satisfaction, I will probe about his diet, and he will say some porridge, and I will recommend to continue it, and I will ask him who his doctor is and he will mention some renowned doctor’s name and I will endorse it.” He went and the actual interview took the following pattern:
“How are you?”
“There is some deterioration.”
“Glad to hear. What diet do you take?”
Irritated, the friend exploded, “Mannangatti (clump of mud).”
“That is the proper diet. Keep it up. Which doctor are you consulting?”
“Yamadharmaraja.”
“He is the best doctor. Follow his advice.”
That answers my curiosity about how my listeners take my responses!




The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune:
Four hundred years ago Shakespeare gave crisp expression to the woes of the common man. The syndrome must have been persisting ever since humans formed society and laws.
“…………………….. the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,”

How do we fare now after four hundred years of exponential growth of knowledge through science, and miraculous conveniences and outreaches? Is human experience better at the individual level? I am afraid the problems have become more acute as the haves are more empowered to dominate.

Ecology: Man vs Nature
There is a vigorous campaign for saving the planet from ecological disaster. The chemicals we let off create a hole in the sky and leads to global warming, raising the spectre of a deluge by melting of the glaciers, so say the greens. That however sees some red. They counter that the nature is its own destroyer. The volcanic eruptions do more to unbalance the ecology than the might of man can match, so they contend.
The volcanic eruptions caused the conditions for life, I remember having read. There is as yet no similar claim for human contribution.
Human action is limited in scope up to now. We are yet to reach a stage when nature will act at the behest of man. The argument that nature is formidable resembles fatalism. At any time our business is with what is in our power.
The global warming may come sooner or later, with no help from man. But, we need a semblance of ecological balance to go through life in relative safety. We may be entitled to clean air, potable water and healthy food. Our actions of using fossil fuels, nicotine and chemicals are making our life precarious. There is sense in the call to moderate our use of pollutants.

I see no point in the argument that our action will be asafoetida dissolved in ocean. We are talking of cooking at home.
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We must infuse life into what we say and do. We do not know who put life into us but we must do it when we create anything in word or deed. Those that do, add meaning to life. We like them and feel happy to be around them. It is more difficult to put life into words and so we must be sparing in their use. (FB is exempted). 
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Is nature efficient?
It appears that it is not, judged from human angle in the light of human discipline of economics.

For example, nature has provided extra brain to human beings, more than necessary for eating, protecting and procreating. That is causing a lot of problems!
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Banking as I understood
Banks raise money from the public and lend to the public, an intermediation that builds on trust at the bank by people who may not come together on their own. Banks create convenience of the economic principle of money as storage of value, free from theft and with some cushion against the deterioration in its value by inflation.
Banks cost their services historically, heuristically and of late using quantitative methods of science and models. Interest on deposits and advances are the major costs, but not the only ones. The return to depositors by banks is not simply interest paid but also satety, transactional facility and some status.
Banks have for a long time distinguished between demand deposits (current account and savings bank deposits) and time deposits (term deposits). Banks lend long intrinsically though on paper the advances are repayable on demand by and large. They must have a sufficient corpus of time deposits for liquidity match (an important parameter to monitor). Though they do lend out of float funds (the core of demand deposits and funds that lurk because of slacks in the system), it cannot be the main source. The interest paid by banks differentiate between withdrawable (unstable) deposits and fixed deposits. That paid on demand deposits is zero in current account and low for savings bank deposits. The interest paid on savings bank deposits is more to encourage savings by individuals, an important aspect in the economy of a country. This practice has been universal and was followed even when interest rates were regulated.
In the deregulated environment, how much interest should banks pay on SB deposits? The consideration cannot change. The rate they charge on advances cannot be cited and a demand made that they pay more on SB accounts. Even on term deposits, banks must follow a practical and prudent policy.
Advances age and collapse, and banks must take in their stride loan failures in the normal course. It becomes a cost legitimately. Inefficiencies of the system as a whole (political, legal and regulatory) and of a bank also become a cost. Is it just to penalize the depositors? That is a philosophical question that can have a simple answer in Utopia.
Often contradictory expectations are placed on banks, to reduce rates from users and to increase it from providers of funds. ‘Good’ borrowers question why they should subsidise the concessions to sick units and priority sector and compensate loan losses.
None of these is a new issue and I do not think that there are satisfactory answers.
But, banks have a duty to manage in the best interests of themselves and the customers on a scientific study of costs and efficient cost administration. What these are is to be decided by those who are in service.
Criticisms are valid but are not holistic always.

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Simple formula for life:
Pray for that which is good to happen to us.
Believe that whatever happens is for the good.
Be grateful for the gift of life.


Maxims for life:
Keep it simple.
Be and let others be.
You are your own redeemer, and living this life is its only redemption.

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My thoughts on privacy:
Privacy is needed for decency- a civilisational constraint, and when we want to hide something, usually a wrong- a mental fixation, or a social imposition. Of course, in money matters we need to protect PW etc.
Often we wish for contradictory things. We want to be noticed, but complain if we are noticed in a way we don't like. How is it ever possible to dictate how others would view?
I see this in me-too also. It is a matter of choice how I dress, but others must see me only if I wish and allow. This is a manufacturing defect and the manufacturer is absconding. I do not think law and technology are going to fix it.
Same with city and publicity. We have no control once we get in. We cannot have a smart city at least in a populated country, and we cannot have publicity of the right type and magnitude.

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We apply principles of justice selectively.
When we support someone, he is presumed innocent until proved guilty. When we do not, we now the truth, because media said so and hearsay reports affirm it. They are guilty before trial and even after being acquitted up to the highest court, because we know and because the system of justice is faulty and not dependable.

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Writing is an art. It is not just putting together words with the right syntax. Sentences must be balanced and their meaning must be lucid. There must be flow. Each part must kindle interest to know what next and the writer must feed on the curiosity judiciously. Without flow it becomes scattered iron filings, which group under the magnet of a mature and fertile mind.
Smt. Aruna Sairam used to relate how she was singing the entire range of swaras in swaraprasthara, but a senior advised her to focus on smaller groups and elaborate. She demonstrated the difference by singing. It is a useful idea for writing also. Instead of saying a lot in one go, one may break them into manageable ideas and dwell on them in some detail before passing on to the next idea.
We get inspiration for good writing by reading good texts rather than by grinding at grammar and improving vocabulary from dictionary. In Tamizh, one forceful writer who pioneered a new style was Kalki. In music, Thyagaraja Kritis breathed new life into the classical music. Nehru was a great writer of English. His speech of tryst with destiny at midnight as India woke to freedom is a classic that was extempore. It is a different matter that action does not vindicate rhetoric.
Concrete holds attention more than the abstract. Relating what we have to say to real life sustains interest. In ‘abstract’ we may become abstruse and confused.
Using apt words, preferring simpler ones to rare ones, gives compactness to the narration. The passage must bring to the reader’s mind something from real life.
Some achieve style, but ordinary writing can be interesting without pretention to style. Great authors bring ornamentation to writing, but too much of it may mar the writing. Kalidasa was known for apt similes, Dandin for elegance of diction and Bharavi for depth of meaning, but Magha combined all these, says a hagiographer of Magha. That is by way of allusion to what style may imply, but we are concerned with normal writing by us.
There are actually no rules for good writing as for good music. In answer to a question whether one can sing abhang in a carnatic music concert since purists object to it, Sanjay said, ‘Forget about them. They are not your paymasters. You can sing even a French song. But, you must hold the attention of the audience.” That goes for writing. We must find good readers for what we write.
Then why did I write this? Hoping for some readers!

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We have differences because of partial perception and dogmatic conception, unverified assumptions and prejudiced presumptions, woolly thinking and vague expression.

If reason and belief are pitted against each other, reason must be examined critically as it is not possible to examine belief. If reason is unyielding, belief must be junked.
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Divinity of a person
We easily see that people appear in different abilities, both inborn and cultivated. Why is there difference at birth? We do not know. Rebirth is a theory with no cast iron proof. But, we can see that the genuine ones who make it big do it on virtue and work. It is a healthy attitude to praise and respect them. But, we should not deify anyone. All people born as human beings are subject to the characteristics as human beings. That is what we see in epics and puranas (which to my mind are allegorical).
To carry the respect beyond limit is infatuation. We must benefit from observance and application, not be content with wonder and wishful thinking.

For example if a certain composer has shown prodigious creativity, it is a blessing. But what matters is his music and the aspirant’s honing his ability to present his music in his own style. Treating the composer as god and belittling himself is not great service to music. There may come along even a worthier one if many try genuinely. There have been many in other forms of music where people have shown remarkable ability, but not considered god.

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What do we owe the ills of the present day to?
To my mind, it is technology and accelerated pace. Technology makes use of natural resources faster than they can be replaced. Technology increases manifold human capacity to manifest its raw passions to deadly consequences. Technology fouls up the environment and unbalances the ecology. Technology makes human effort look silly and stupid. Technology is the real Frankenstein’s master or Bhasmasura.

What technology does externally, the quickened pace does internally. We are thrown out of rhythm with nature. Our heart beat, duration of digestion, sleep cycle, etc. cannot cope with the habit of hurry, the inpatience to speed up the clock as it were.




There is a difference between scientists and psudo-scientists.
Science deals with objects which have no mind as far as we know. They behave predictably, non-idiosyncratically. Thus we have laws of science that seem inexorable in a given framework.
Where human minds are at play and influence outcome, we are on shifting grounds or quicksand. That is the case with economics, stock prices, etc. Astrology is not a science, and even statistically, astrological predictions are unreliable because of human choice and decision, apart from the assumed role of planets on our lives. Psychology, though a science in its own right, is less certain because it deals with mind as its subject.
Even science becomes wobbly when observation is involved like in Q.M. The Q.M. theory veers to the view that the observer affects the outcome.

If we appreciate this basic difference, we will not put the economists on a pedestal even if some of their predictions became stunning reality, nor would we blame them when they goof up. We should not give them more attention than to the TV news and debate, esp. in Arnab show.
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We should subject ourselves to as little outside influence as possible, no matter how acclaimed, how beneficial, how popular it is.
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Could light be the source of the universe? Light means all electromagnetic energy.
OT says: And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
Upanishads also describe Brahman (God/soul) as self-luminous.
Religion tries to concretise abstract principles for mass consumption and such stories as are found in scripture could be allegorical.
I am not clear what science says there was before Big Bang. Maybe there was just energy, no matter.

Is it likely that the universe will disappear after eons into energy again?
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Stopping free markets and inflow of talent from all over the world will make USA lose its pre-eminence; doing away with religious, linguistic and cultural diversity will disintegrate India; mindless technology that supplants human effort and initiative and fouls up ecology will make Homo sapiens extinct as a species.
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Reinstatement of the past is neither an option nor a desideratum.
It is just a fiction of the mind that some past was hunky dory and that things have gone awry now. There is no reliable way to know how well people lived in the past. Opinion leaders create an illusion based on some not so-defining evidences.

It is the way things are that future is continuously spun from the raw material of the past in some pattern that is rarely an exact replica of the past. Human intelligence has no potential to reorder the script. We can influence the future in a limited, maybe an intended desirable, way, but it cannot be status quo ante. Life will have no charm either with continuation of a static scenario.

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