Saturday, 23 May 2020

Nana - RIP

On this first anniversary of Nana, I find the memories of him starting to unclog, as if they were stuck somewhere down there in the system, and refusing to come out as memories, tales waiting to be told and retold by him. But now he can’t verify them.
Being his daughter, I was subjected to some fierce protectiveness and love (not that his sons were spared the same).
A tale he loved to tell and which I distinctly remember, is how I once cried because a teacher hit me in class. I cried at home. The next day he was in the classroom and asking me which teacher hit me, while I pointed at her. I don’t know who was more mortified, the teacher or the six year old me. But nonetheless, I think I was relieved because I do remember she was a terror. I was shifted to another section.
When I first went to school by cycle, he would reach there as the bell rang and ride by me on his scooter!!! The same continued when I came back home after hostel. He would be at the bus stop to fetch me home, even if I was all of 23.
Some other persistent childhood memories are of him coming home by scooter and we would be waiting by the window. We were used to his booming laugh, his overall generosity and huge heart, also his quick temper! But he never ever raised a hand to anyone. He had his fancies. He had bought a car even before I was born, and there are so many tales about that vehicle, I think my elder brother, who had the privilege of riding in it, would be able to do justice to it. He got a Colour TV just as they started producing them and which made our house popular in the neighbourhood, he took us on annual vacations when my parents went for their conferences. He loved all those new experiences. By the time I was 11 years old, we (my brothers and I with my grandmother accompanying us) had seen most of India, literally from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
He was a familiar figure on his scooter at the Mangalabag junction, where he stopped for his daily paan. Stories from many people about him would include, how he dropped them behind at Mangalabag, forgetting they were riding pillion! He was eccentric that way, and many other ways! Relatives remember his running after them, insisting they give blood, urine samples, so he could get them tested for whatever disease his medical eyes would have detected. I have not seen a more intuitive or genuine doctor. All our life, except the last few years, we just needed to tell a problem over the phone, for the correct diagnosis to reach us. We became quite blasé, expecting the same level of commitment and knowledge from every Doctor.
He went to work as a Surgeon at Libya for some time. The warm family man that he was, he could not last there for long. But he made the most of that time. He had a long tour of Europe on his return. He had a host of Libyan stories to tell. As a Doctor and the Chief Surgeon, he was hugely respected. For the most part the patients treated him like God. However, there is one incident which he told that gave us the chills, a patient running after him in his pickup due to some perceived grievance. He ran to the police station, and the police were very helpful. He however had significant success as a Surgeon over there and made some lasting friendships.
Other incidents come to life, as I start to write. His being desolate on retiring. He was not much a private practicing person. He gave his all to his job and rest to playing his beloved bridge, and family matters. Clubbing was not for him. Then as he got his pension dues, he picked up a project, building his beloved house. Till then we were always staying at quarters or rental accommodations. He went into the house project with the same zest he reserved for anything.
As his house got completed, and the family started staying there, he got into another project. The SCB 51, a reunion of his batchmates from medical college. From 1995, till 2018, before the advent of mobile phones till the days of all pervasive media, from heights of success, to kids marriages, grandchildren, retirement sojourns, illnesses, and lately, the last few years, deaths, the group met with clockwork regularity, monthly, then bi- monthly, quarterly, annually. The kind of seriousness, intent and formality and of course love each and every member brought to these meetings were lessons for all of us. My father was forever serious about these meet-ups and was an important cog in this wheel of reunions. My mother, a Doctor with two DMs to her credit, was always by his side, supporting his every decision, and acting on them.
He was a very curious man, always wanting to try out new things. To that end he even took computer lessons to understand the intricacies of word and excel. Anyone who got caught by him needed to explain how all the facets of a mobile phone worked. He also used his need to be on top of things, to his health. Ravaged by many diseases, he was always on the lookout for the latest cure. From applying the latest stents in 2002, to a cyber knife treatment that he had discovered that apparently worked best for prostrate cancer, he went fearlessly into the operation theatre. Maybe all those hours in the OT had given him an appreciation of how much of a saviour a surgeon is, as well as removed any fear of a surgeon’s table. It is fitting that he spent his last days in the ICU. But what a fight he gave! And what torture it was for us.
The biggest memory I would forever carry of my father is his ruling the drawing room, people coming to visit him forever at all hours, everyone from the driver or the cook’s brother to respected doctors or managers, to relatives, being accorded the same respect, the same chairs to sit, pakoda, cold drinks, tea. And respect to my Mom for providing it, the tea and pakodas.
May he carry his huge heart and egalitarian principles to whichever World he is now!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Top 4 Things the Corona Will Change in the World # Lifestyle Goals

Here are 4 effects, in my opinion, the Corona Virus is going to have on the World on the aftermath of the crisis, while editing our lifestyle goals.

1.  Going on a cruise. That is one lifestyle goal many of us have. Go on a World cruise once I retire/ once I have saved enough, once the kids grow up. Not any longer though.

Many cruise ships are still stranded on the high seas and are being shown on the Corona tracker as amongst those most affected. As it is, Cruising is a dangerous event. To put ones life in a floating vessel that is a speck on the wide high seas with not a ship/soul in sight, is surrendering oneself to the mighty ocean. And now the holiday makers are stranded with no country wanting them to land on their shores. The passengers are confined to their cabins. Of course one can say it is the ultimate social distancing and no worse than what most of us have to go through. But honestly I would prefer to do it with my feet firmly on the ground.

As per a CNN report more than a dozen cruise ships are on the sea now, some with the virus affected passengers, some with suspected cases, quarantined passengers, uncertain docking rights, and some unaffected, still.

It is going to be one heck of an affected industry in the near future. #getthemoffthatboat

2. Foreign travel/ See the Vatican

No one can fathom as of now how much travel to Europe and especially Italy and Spain is going to be affected in the coming year. The countries are strained and stressed for resources after their massive fights against Corona. Can tourism revive them? Tourism contributes 13.3 % to the Italian GDP.  Other than tourism, Italy is a large hub for luxury goods. The one market that looks really likely to be hit with the virus effects is the luxury goods market. Can Italy and Spain make a comeback? Will the Pompeii, Vatican and the Pantheon be enough to lure wary tourists?

Air travel which has made distances so small is bound to be affected. Essential travel may not be hampered but I dont see people buying tickets and jumping on a flight just like that. Or will they?

Oe never knows the extent of human resilience. However what has definitely lost its allure is foreign travel, as of now. #coronaitaly, #vivoazzurro

3. Warm welcome

Even though we Indians proudly claim the Namaste, the hugs have picked up in our generation. A warm hug to a friend, a cuddle to a child, a pat on the back, all are going to be severely frowned upon in the near future. I just read an article that Japan has low cases because they generally maintain a social distance. And we know the Italians and the French are expressive "huggers".

So we all are going to go the Japan way very soon, unless the World cures itself dramatically. Maintain distance, wear masks, sanitize hands before entering buildings, workplaces, disinfect, wash hands, are all going to be the norm from here onwards. So better get used to it.. sadly. #socialdistancing

4. Online World / Less Travel to Work

Is the office going to be a small conference room in the near future, and not the mega uber sophisticated spaces? Will the real estate values of the business districts tumble down as people start working from home, and consequently will the prices in the residential home market skyrocket!

Well, farmers can never work from home, nor can construction workers, doctors (at least most of them),  bankers, sanitary workers, vendors, delivery people (the demand for whom is going to skyrocket). Tech workers, salesmen, back office workers, auditors, accountants, teachers, researchers, traders, analysts, project managers are probably the many poeple who will be part of a vibrant online community. And the list will keep growing as people find new ways to get their jobs done with minimal physical interface and only the necessary presence on ground.  Fashion is another industry that will require a huge physical presence. #wfh #stayathome

But the vada pao seller at Chowpatti and the battery and hair clips vendor on the Mumbai locals are not going to be happy with the online world, unless they can find a way to sell these online.

Will it mean a less polluted world? You bet! Even though commercial flights (as versus passenger flights), manufacturing, construction, are the major contributors to pollution, a cut down in short travel (as has happened now) is definitely going to slow things down, or flatten the growth of pollution to some extent.

Flattening all growth seems to be the keyword now, going forward. Instead of "live life king size" - its better to live life human size and know our places in the larger scheme of things.