Parenting Stories

What does an atheist do when caught in a religious trap? Pray for release? When the suggestion came to attend a workshop in the salubrious climes of Manashakti, Lonavla – and that too at a MRP which seemed to be quite reasonable, the reaction was ‘What the hell? I can always take a furlough if it is boring.

Nothing can be more irritating for a teacher, than to be not able to listen to his own voice in a class. Nothing excites a kid more than the idea of having fun. The fun increases when the kid realizes that whilst he is having fun, his mom and dad are actually attending classes on parenting!

We use a lot of video in class nowadays. Even when using video we have realized that it is audio quality that matters more. The screen can be a 10 inch netbook – it does not matter. How would it be if we only used audio? A lot of popular youtube videos – music for studies, music for meditation etc – are the only audio sorts. Is there something more to them than just low bandwidth? What if the feed was a speech instead of music? In hearing a talk on audio – the added advantage is posture. You unconsciously feel more relaxed – the virtual speaker who peers down the video screen is absent. He could not see you anyways, but now you are doubly sure he cannot. So a lot of the audience closes their eyes – helps imagination, helps concentration. An experiment worth doing in a class!

Interesting One-liners

What is a net made of? Holes, isn’t it?

How do you link progress with action? The Hindi word for progress is Pragati; the word for speed is Gati? Without action there can be no progress.

90% of what happens to you in life you cannot control. But give 100% to the 10% that you can.

The real test of a person is in crisis. I wonder why interviewers do not end up discussing such crisis situations with candidates.

Richard Dawkins says that we all have genes for ‘selfishness.’ ‘Unselfishness’ has to be taught!

Every action is a reaction, There is a cause for every effect.

Observations

In Marathi a typical 35 minute school period is called a ‘taas’. Taas also means one hour in Marathi. Is it an indication of schools trying to squeeze in too many things in too short a time?

If you slip on a banana peel, who is responsible? The peel? The person who threw the peel? The sweepers who did not clean the roads? The Municipal corporation? And if you did not slip, then who is responsible? And by the way, what did you do about the peel?

Imagine your kid has topped the board exams in the state. What would you say? What would your kid say? Who would he credit? What feelings would run through you when he thanks you as the TV cameras roll? Now imagine your kid has failed the board exams. Who should he give the credit to now?

The kid was annoyed with his parents. You could clearly see that? So I asked him, ‘Should I go to the market, and get some new ones from you? What kind would you like me to buy? A mom who only makes burgers and pizzas? A dad who takes you out everyday?’. It is easy for mom and dad. They have an option to not look at each other, ever. Unfortunately for the kid – he does not have the option of the marketplace – there is no doosri-mom.com for him.

In Japan you bow to pay respect. The more the respect, the deeper the bow. In India, the bow is 1-0. You go 180 degrees and touch the feet, or nothing at all. It is an ancient custom. You don’t find this happening too often. When someone does it to me – it makes me feel ancient. I usually end up shooing potential bowers – by dequivering them before the bows and arrows come. But look at it physiologically – good for the blood flow to the brain. The more you bow – the brainier you become. The problem near the age of 50 is that the number of people you can bow to reduces – as you realize the world is not as young as it used to be. So I looked at it this way – why not do the reverse. Why not pay respect to the future, to the youth? Started with the wife. She muttered some blessings under her breath – which I am still trying to decipher. Tomorrow it is going to be the kids. And yes, am eagerly awaiting the day I can extend this practice to the grandchildren..

Food

2 dals and 2 rotis is an excellent lunch. Especially if it is frugal with the oil and the spices. Attending to work after such a meal is so much easier. Each one washing his dishes immediately after a meal gives a sense of completion to a meal. It is a declaration: No more, I am done. It sends a message: my plate is ready for the next meal when it comes. It makes waste very visible – as it goes thrown into the garbage bin. And finally – it is easy to do as the adhesion of the food particles is still not high immediately after a meal.

Happiness

I met a beggar on the road. He asked for 5 Rupees. Am normally not very kind with beggars – and tend to ignore them. Feeling excessively generous, I gave him 10. He called back: ‘Boss, give me 10 more.’ ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘First, my plan’, said the beggar, ‘was to have a cup of chai. That would have cost me 5 bucks. Now you have given me 10, so why not have a wada-pav along with it?’

Have you faced a time that you were so full of happiness that you actually burped? How many times have you had so much of your quota of happiness, that you say ‘No more. I am full.’ Reality is that there is no end to this need for happiness. The corollary – there will always be sadness. The pendulum swings both ways, always. 50% happiness – 50% sadness. The ying always goes with the yang. There can be no happiness without sadness. It is always a relative thing.

Take out your wallet. Take out a 100 Rs. note from it. Is it yours? Are you sure? Did you steal it? How did you earn it? Specifically that note? Possession is ownership.

To get something you must give something. Did you know that you apply that principle every minute? You cannot breath in without breathing out. You cannot eat without going to the loo. So why do you not accept this with wealth? This is a Karj, not an arj.

Identity

Once a wood-cutter was asked how old his axe was. Ohh. It is a family heirloom. Has been with us for the last 10 generations. Sometimes we change the handle, sometimes the blade – but the axe, Sir, she always remains the same.

Who are you? The first reaction is always a name. You are a name. So if I show your photo to other people they will recognize it. That’s you. What if I show them a photo of you as a one year old? Would they recognize it? What if you emigrate to the US and we lose touch. You whatsapp me your photo 30 years later. Would people in this room be able to say that it is you?

Like the axe, your cells are constantly dying and being born. This ongoing attrition ensures that in 7 years time, there is a completely new ‘you’. Not a single cell that existed in you 7 years ago exists in you today. Yet, you continue to believe that you are you. So you are not definitely not your cells, your body. In fact, the body is an illusion. Your hunt for your identity is not over. Go find it.

The Engine of Life

When you were in the womb, your heart beat 150 times a second. When you were born, it was at 120. When you die, it is 60. All of us are born with a finite number of heart beats. You can call it one tankful of your car’s fuel.We want our kids to be Ferraris. When we are experiencing negative emotions, especially jealousy, our heart beats faster. The engine is running at a higher speed. You are not going faster, you simply are in the wrong gear. So you end up sapping away a little more of your life than it would have you had if you had been in the right gear.

We want all our kids to grow up to be Ferraris. They start life as Maruti 800’s. The selling point of most Marutis has always been the ‘average’. Unfortunately in the fog of life, we cannot see the scenery go past – so we tend to judge progress through the revs that shoot out from the engine. We feel that by running our kids at high rpms, even when we are reducing the ‘efficiency’ of the kids, we are getting them closer to being Ferraris. Once in a while – it would be a good idea to check – and see if their gear is set right.

And to end a very interesting story: I got down from the ST bus. Had dropped me on the highway. The village was some distance from the highway. I asked an old man who sat under a tree ‘Kaka, village jaane ko kitna time lagega?’ ‘Start walking’ he said. I thought he had not understood me, so I asked him the same question, this time in Marathi. ‘Start walking’ he said. Thinking to myself, that how senility brings rudeness, I started walking along the kachcha road to the village. After half a minute, I hear the old man say: ‘20 minutes’ I looked back and said: ‘Kaka, pehle kyon naahin bola?’ And he replied: ‘I hadn’t seen you walking.’