Back to our roots ?

I sometimes wonder whether the time is ripe for us to get back to basics. We need to rediscover our roots and live again like our forefathers did. The current pandemic has made many of us reflective. It has helped us realise that health and happiness, money cannot buy. The richest of nations and the most advanced have suffered the most in this pandemic.

I would like to share my life journey and learning through time. In my childhood, we had limited resources but unlimited happiness. None of us generally fell sick amongst family and friends and we were content with what we had in life. I recall our home with no fridge, TV, washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator or air conditioners but none of us complained. We had the joy of living together as a family, having dinner together and playing together.

Then as we grew up and went to college, we experienced the benefit of travelling by bus and train and saving money for our parents by whatever means we could. There was only one earning member in the family and all of us contributed our bit to conserve and contribute to everything happening around us.

While our first job gave us financial independence, it also taught us how to stand on our own feet. We considered it our duty to send back money to our parents and also take care of them. Expressing our gratitude to everyone who helped us stand up in life was a way of life. Today the pandemic reminded us about the value of family and friends. It has brought us back to ground zero.

In our career, we almost took our job for granted. Most of us did not believe that we will ever lose our job in our career. Life long careers in organisations was almost a given. Today, it is quite different. People neither want to work for an organisation for life nor organisations are willing to guarantee life long jobs. Jobs are changing and so are careers. This again is making us realise that life is beyond a job and a career.

If we look at our life in general, a lot has changed too. We were enamoured by the social media and the number of friends we have. However in a crisis like the current pandemic, we realise that the true caring people are your close family and a few reliable friends only. We need to realise that we have to save for the future and lay the foundation for the future of our family as well.

Conserving for the present and saving for the future was taught to us as we started our careers. Today we live for the present. We had started to believe that life is today. We need not worry about the tomorrow. Today the pandemic has suddenly woken us up again. We may not be sure of our job security and the future looms in front of us. So, we realise that we need to go back to saving today for a better tomorrow.

In every aspect of life, we are realising today that we need to get back to our roots. Our food, our living styles, conserving nature, being grateful or even our career or vocation. We need to learn to be self dependant and respect nature in every way.

As in the photo above, we need to reflect if we have the ability to admire the beauty of this flower and connect with nature as we did in the past.

Our life events are cyclic and it is possibly the time to reinvent ourselves and rediscover the fundamentals of life and living.

S Ramesh Shankar

23rd July 2020

Life need not be a “win or lose” always…

Many of us think of life as a race where one has to win and another lose . Is it necessary ? I am not sure. It may be a good idea to look at life as a game to play and enjoy the game. You may win some time, lose some time and even end up in a draw some time. We may also be prepared for a game to abandoned sometimes and you may have to share points with your opponent.

Life is a zero sum game. The day we realise it, the better for us. We need not live life as if we have to win a game always. We need to learn to play the game in a fair way and give it our best shot. If we win, we deserve it and if we lose, our opponent deserves to win. If there is a draw, both of us deserve to share the credit.

This phenomenon of win-lose spirit is seeped in societal values. We urge our children to be competitive always and look at winning at all levels. A child who does not learn to accept defeat cannot face life in its full fury. We need to learn to accept victory with humility and defeat with grace. This is best lesson for life.

Our education system is entrenched with systems to identify winners and losers only. It may be time to revamp this system so that we encourage students to learn and play the game in a fair manner. While winning or losing may be an outcome, it should not be our focus. We need to learn to play the game to the best of our ability and let victory or defeat go to the person who deserves it on that day at that time.

This attitude to life has been promoted within families too. We make our own children compete with each other. We promote competitiveness amongst our own children at home by saying that you are not as good as your sister or brother. This way we not only kill the spirit of learning but also promote rivalry and lack of mutual respect between siblings.

The work place is no different. Having spent almost four decades in the corporate world, one can understand that the workplace is a competitive world. But this does not mean that we create systems and processes where employees almost kill each other to be a winner. We need to enable employees to continually learn and give their best. Winning or losing has to be realised as an outcome of their efforts and not an end in itself.

The sports arena is also not different. We see players and teams competing with each other to win at any cost. Sometimes they are willing to violate rules, behave unacceptably as long as they win. This is not the spirit in which any game is to be played. The spirit of the game is not valued anymore. Victory by any means is recognised and promoted. This kills the spirit of the game and thereby gives birth to players who are like conspirators to enable victory at any cost.

We need to learn that life need not be a win-lose game. I would prefer life to be an enjoyable journey of learning, where wining and losing is part of the game. Playing the game in the true spirit has to be encouraged and rewarded. This will ensure that people learn to play in a fair way. We will realise that this leads to better behaviour of people, more happiness and better results as well.

As in the photo above, we need to make players learn to play the game fairly rather than only focus on winning all the time.

Let us learn to play the game of life.

S Ramesh Shankar

24th June 2020

Locked in because of the lockout

We always have a ready excuse in life for everything. When people ask me, why were you not able to complete a task, I may say there was a lockout and you know how you feel lonely and left out in such a situation.

We may blame the rains for coming in late to office or the sun for not going for a evening walk. It is possibly human to invent reasons for not doing something. But, if we dig deep, we will find, we do not have an excuse for anything.

It can be as simple as promise made to my kid to take her for a circus or as official as a commitment to send a presentation to a customer on a particular date. While we always find excuses to justify our behaviour but deep down in our hearts we know we have none.

While this may look simple, it is possibly one of the most difficult things to achieve in life. What I find interesting is that the simplest things in life are the most challenging. It may easier to fix a machine under breakdown than to change a simple habit of ours every day.

I learnt it the hard way to be punctual in life after I missed an important event in my school days. Since then, I have been punctual in all my personal and official engagements. What I find interesting is that late comers to work are never late to miss a train or a plane during vacations. This means that if we are passionate about something, we can make the change.

This is equally true in life. The lockout is beyond our control. It is possibly one of the best ways to prevent the unknown virus to spread. However, to keep our mind locked in and blame the lockout for that is not justifiable. I know people in life who will always find a reason for things going wrong for them. They are never happy. On the other hand, you find people, who are always happy irrespective of the fact that they may not have all the luxuries of life with them.

So the simple lesson to be learnt is that we need not feel locked in even in a lockout. We can find hundred and one ways of keeping ourselves engaged and innovating and thriving in this environment. I put my thinking cap on and got so many ideas to write about, which I never got during the normal days of the year so far. So, it is upto us to change any situation to our personal advantage.

If we believe the lockout has not only physically kept us indoors but also mentally, we have none to blame than ourselves. Our mental potential is unlimited. Irrespective of your field of interest or work, you could discover new things everyday even within the confines of your home. There is so much to learn, so much to observe, so much to read and reflect and so much to change.

The sooner we realise this phenomenon, the better it is for us as evolving human beings. If not, we get stuck like the snail in its shell. We may be putting our head in the sand like the Ostrich and thinking that the world has come to an end. We need to realise that we have sunk our head and the world around us is still alive and kicking.

As in the photo above, we innovated on the cap and the mask to have fun even during the lockdown.

Time to get up and awaken ourselves is now. Are we ready ?

S Ramesh Shankar

20th April 2020

Life is what you make out of it….

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I sometimes wonder as to why the street side vendor is happy and smiling always and on the other hand, wealthy businessmen spend sleepless nights. I am also surprised as to how some people are smiling and happy always while others crib all the time.

Life is what you make out it. In every situation in life, we have a choice. We can be happy or sad. We can give in or we can stand up. We can face a challenge head on and move on or cry for the rest of our lives. Life is full of challenges but it is upto us to decide how we are going to deal with it.

Nobody or no instance can make us happy or sad. It is upto us to choose what we want to do. Imagine, one has missed a promotion in your career. Of course all of us feel bad and we should feel so as we are all human. The choice before us is to feel bad for a day or two and then move on and bounce back in your career or crib for the rest of your life and backtrack in one’s career.

Every aspect of life always gives us a choice to make. A man on the street is content and never looks at the millionaires and cry. Some millionaires are looking at billionaires and crying every day. So choice is ours. Do we want to be content or do we want to be greedy for the rest of our lives. There is nothing wrong to be ambitious and desire to want things. But once we get all that we want for a healthy and happy life, are we happy or are we sad ? That is question we need to ask ourselves.

I can share an incident which happened to me just now. I completed the whole blog and there was crash in the iPad and everything got deleted. Now too I have a choice. Should I curse my bad luck and keep crying or should I say I get another opportunity to write again and may be newer thoughts come to my mind. I chose the latter and it made me happy again.

During these days of the lockdown, all of us are holed up in our homes. Some of us are cursing ourselves that we are not able to travel, play or entertain ourselves everyday. On the other hand, I see many of us are exploring our best creativity every day and express it in social media and other channels. My spouse and me decided that we will do house keeping all over our home and pursue our hobbies and believe me it was fun. We disposed off a lot of our junk and have identified things we can donate, which we do not need anymore. So, life is a choice every day. What we make out of it is in our hands not in anybody else’s hands or even God.

Nowadays, I get inspired by the stories I read. I am grateful to each one of them who are exemplifying their bravery and sacrificing their personal lives for the welfare of others. You hear a pregnant lady working on a Covid vaccine and delivering that first before taking care of her kid. You hear a poor farmer giving away all his produce to daily workers so that they survive and not go hungry. All these people also had a choice. They took the choice of making others happy rather than themselves since that gives them more happiness in their lives.

I get inspiration from the common people I meet every day. The bus conductor who is always smiling even when the students get rude and tend to misbehave. Or the traffic cop who uses dance forms in the middle of the road standing in pollution so that he can make his job entertaining and bring smile in the faces of the passer by.

In every situation of life, we have a choice. I have voted to remain happy all the time and try to make others happy. You can also make your choice.

As in the photo above, I also tried my hand at photography, which is one of my passions and hobbies.

What is the choice you have made today ?

S Ramesh Shankar

12th March 2020

Phoren returned ?

It is interesting how the world turns upside down within a few days or even hours. It was a great honour and matter of pride for people in India to tell that they have just returned from a foreign trip. They were proud when their children studied abroad or they themselves went on a holiday to a foreign land. They could proudly share it with friends and family with photographs and all details.

However, in the last few days since the Covid virus hit the world, it is the contrary. Nobody wants you to be near them if you have returned from a foreign country. Apart from the compulsory quarantine for a fortnight mandated by the health authorities, people are wary of phoren returned friends and relatives. It is no longer a fad. On the contrary, people are wary of disclosing that they have returned recently from a foreign trip.

I am not against anyone going anywhere to do anything. If a student excels in academics and wants to study in the best university in the world – she or he has a right to do so and should do the same. Similarly, if a professional or a business person gets an opportunity to thrive in a different country there is nothing wrong about the same. However, what intrigues me is that the people residing in these prosperous worlds want to return to India when there is a crisis. Inspite of having better medical and health care facilities, they believe India will care for them more than any other country in the world would. They want to acquire citizenship in these countries for their material prosperity but they still want a place in India’s heart for their emotional security.

The government of India with the help of our national airlines and also the defence forces repeatedly takes up difficult missions to rescue Indians from across the world whenever there is a crisis and they should continue to do so. However, I have only one appeal to these prosperous and successful Indians. While India and Indians will always have a space in our hearts for all of you, kindly do not forget India when we need you. We would urge you to remember India not only when you are in trouble but also when you doing well wherever you are.

I saw a picture today sent by someone on the social media. It shows thousands of successful Indians returning to India during the Covid crisis because they feel it is safer to be at home during this period. On the other hand, millions of migrant workers are left stranded in the metros because there is nobody to take care of them. They could not afford to take flights back home like the prosperous Indians could.

Gratitude is absolute. It can and never should be relative. I cannot and should not think of being grateful commensurate to the benefit I derive from a person, organisation or a nation. I have to be absolutely grateful to everyone who has helped me in this journey of life irrespective of the magnitude of their contribution. It is then I am truly grateful.

Similarly prosperous Indians around the world have to be grateful to their roots in India and the people who have contributed to their success. They should express their gratitude in monetary and non monetary terms whenever and wherever it is possible and not wait for someone to ask. It is like people living in metros should be grateful to the migrant workers from across the country for their daily services. We have to take care of them when they are in crisis and not only use them when we need them. Gratitude is a two way street. One never knows when we will be trouble and and we may need help.

It is like in the picture above. The foreign returnee is not sure whether she wants to show her face or not.

Let us commit to express our gratitude in deeds rather than words and expressions from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

29th March 2020

What do I do post retirement ?

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Today it is exactly a year since I retired from corporate life. One of the oft repeated questions I am asked post my retirement from a professional career in March 2019 is “What do you do nowadays ?”. While it is a fair question to ask, my answer may bemuse you certainly. I seem to be more busy and occupied than during my corporate days.

Now to be specific on how my day is spent, let me share a typical day of mine nowadays post retirement. I get up up around 6 am and then after my morning ablutions, do yoga along with my spouse for about 45 minutes. This is followed by my morning coffee and then a nice nature walk in my campus along with my partner for half an hour.

Then I return home and after a sumptuous breakfast, I read three newspapers. This is a habit, which I pursued thanks to my daughter, who is a student of journalism. This habit is to get different perspectives on the same issue. So I read a business news paper and two newspapers – one generally supporting the government and one opposing it. This helps you get a balanced view of things happening around you. This takes about an hour.

Then I sip a cup of fresh brewed coffee and go to my study room to check my emails and also respond to any issues I am supposed to during the day. I also check my social media and linkedin account and post my responses. I tend to read a bit, when in mood to do so. This I do in a room facing green trees and the wind whistling past me along with birds singing their tunes.

I also meet young professionals in person or on call or video to answer career questions or any conflicts they are facing in their profession. This helps me to share my learnings with them.

It’s time for lunch and both me and my wife have home made lunch together and share our stories for the day. We also exchange information we may have got from different sources since morning which the other person may not have read or heard.

Then I check the news and other updates I get from friends and relatives on my social media accounts and also watch some videos etc before I soak into a healthy afternoon siesta for an hour. This refreshes me for the rest of the day and make me energetic again.

I now go around taking photos of my garden, birds, animals and plants and post some quizzes on social media to share my limited knowledge or to seek answers about things I do not know from my friends and relatives. Some days I skip the afternoon siesta if I have some interesting things to do.

I may also go out to the city for some shopping or meeting partners for my professional engagements. This helps me to be in touch with happenings in the professional world in which I spent the last four decades.

Now it is time to give back to society in some way. So I am busy with my residents welfare association doing some volunteering to improve our quality of life. Further to save water and power in our campus, we are also experimenting with some new techniques.

Nowadays, I have the time to visit friends and relatives in my city and other places and attend all family and social events. I also call on all elders and enquire about their health and well being. Spending time with my life long partner and helping her in her daily chores helps her relax and also gives me joy.

Then it is time to share my limited knowledge. So I am tutoring school kids of our neighbourhood on English, maths and science subjects. They are children of employees working in our campus and I love the sparkle in their eyes, when they speak to me in English. It is indeed a gratifying engagement.

Then my evening coffee and it is time for some sporting action on TV. It could be cricket, tennis, badminton, hockey or any other sport where India is participating. It gives me joy to see Indian sportspersons excelling around the world nowadays. On some days, I am watching a play or some music or dance programme to quench my interests in arts and culture.

I then go for a stroll again for another 30 minutes in the evening to relax and listen to nature at night. This also helps us share our insights during the day and plan for the next day.

Then dinner time followed by some and news and analysis on tv if it is of interest to me. I generally avoid tv except for sports nowadays. Then I also like to see news on cars and bikes from around the world and business updates.

Now it is time for bed and we do pranayama again together and thank God for bestowing us with everything in life and pray for the wellness and happiness of mankind before we have a good night sleep.

Now , you may wonder as to where I have the time to waste even post retirement. I should add that on days I travel out of station, I am driving my car for hundreds of kilometres a day and enjoying nature and environment around me as in the photo above at Hampi.

Is it time for you to retire and join me in this joyful life ?

PS: This blog was written of a typical day before the Covid crisis hit us.

S Ramesh Shankar

10th August 2019

Slow down before it is too late…

The Covid -19 virus attack around the world has helped people to forcibly slow down. I have always wondered why people are always on the fast lane especially in their career. The cut throat competition makes people sacrifice their life and family to stay ahead of the curve.

Let me be honest. I was no exception. I also ran the rat race till the age of 38, when suddenly an illness in the family shook me up. I used to spend extra hours at work and never worried too much about my family , friends or relatives. This incident not only shook me up but it changed my life.

I am not sure if it is worthwhile to run in this rate race called life. We need to get our priorities right. It is difficult to draw the line as to where work ends and family life begins. But it is worthwhile to do the same. After all, we all work to lead a happy and healthy life, enjoying ourselves with family and friends. What will we do with all the money we earn if we have no time left with family or friends to celebrate in life.

It may appear philosophical but it is worth reflecting upon. What is the purpose of life ? If we are able to find an answer to this question, it may help us set our priorities in life right. If not, we will continue to wander in this mesh called career / business and will never be able to get out of this vicious circle.

I remember a few years back one of my close relatives consulted me. He had got a great break in a leading fmcg company in Mumbai while he was working in a public sector organisation. He and his spouse both worked for the same public enterprise. Both husband and wife were keen to take up this job in Mumbai but his parents refused to move with him. Since his aged parents stayed with him, he was caught in a dilemma. If he moved, it was good for his career, if he did not move, his parents continue to happily stay with him. So, it took him some time to take a call. After consulting a few well wishers, he decided to sacrifice his career to keep his parents happy.

So, in life, we have to take a call on what is our goal ? What is our purpose ? How do we define happiness ? This could change as we grow up and as our family expands. But it is worth asking these questions time and again and prioritise your life accordingly. We have to remember that money cannot always buy happiness for you. In the true sense, money can make you materially prosperous but inner happiness may still evade you.

Today with the Covid – 19, virus hitting the world, everyone is shaken. Governments are dealing with this crisis every hour. Families are worried for their kith and kin especially if they are working in the virus infected regions or countries. We have to remember that we need to take a call what is important at every stage of our lives.

Having worked in the corporate arena for almost four decades, I am not professing renunciation of one’s career. I am only advocating that we need to set and reset our priorities in life time and again. It is fine if it changes and we go wrong. It is only when we make mistakes do we learn. It is good to learn and change. After all life is a long journey and we get more than one chance to make mid course corrections. However, if we don’t, we cannot blame the world, we need to blame ourselves.

Now is the time to sit back and reflect. Now is the time reset your goals in life. It is never too late but the earlier the better for us.

Lets start today.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th March 2020

Living on the Edge…

Life is like living on the edge today. We can neither rely on our past nor predict the future. The life cycle of changes were in years then reduced to months , hours and may be now it is in minutes. We are not sure what is likely to happen the very next minute in our lives. No part of the world seems safe for human living. No phase of life is stable and predictable.

Let us examine life from different prisms and different stages. Today we cannot even predict when a child is likely to be born. Of course, in the past also it was true. But, today with all the advancement of technology, the doctors generally give a likely week and not an exact date. Inspite of all the tests possible the doctors are not sure if the birth of the kid will be normal or through a c section. The life of the mother and the kid is fragile till birth and may be till they stabilise after a few months.

Lets move the next stage of a student. The admission into class 1 has become the most difficult in most metropolitan cities in India. Parents run around in search of a school and in most situations do not have a choice but are compelled to admit their child in the school where they get admission rather than the school where they want their child to study. They commit to visit all temples, mosques and churches in their mind if their child does get admitted in any school.

In the next stage, the kid passes out of school and we cannot be sure where the child can pursue further studies. The college admission process is also a rat race and has many unpredictable factors. Assuming the child is able to pass out college in flying colours and wants to pursue her master’s course in a specialised field, the challenges are similar. Even after getting a post graduate degree in their preferred subject, most students cannot be sure of their career choice.

Life is full of uncertainties and it does not end here. As an adult enters an organisation, he may be believe that his life will be stable and predictable. This may no longer to be true. The organisation you join may be taken over and there could be restructuring and you may be declared redundant and lose your job in a few years. The market may go into recession and everything may look gloomy all around you.

If we believe that we have a job and will get married to a partner of our choice and life may turn positive may not be true. Today, young couples have independent aspirations, beliefs and values. Neither of the two are wiling to compromise on their priorities. This may lead to a divorce much earlier then they would believe it could happen. So, then life begins all over again for both the partners.

Assuming, one has got over this phase of life and you have settled down with your partner does not guarantee peace of mind. The performance and stress anxieties are making couples lonely even in a crowd. This is leading to childless couples and other marital discords. If we are able to get over it and have a child and bring up the kid as per our dreams, life’s challenges begins all over again.

All the above unpredictabilities of life also give us a plethora of opportunities. We can be the best student in the class and then every school and college will like to admit us. We may excel in sports or arts and again academic institutions are willing to give us a chance. If we are the best in whatever we do at work, no employer would like to give us the pink slip even in the worst market conditions.

If we are an affectionate and empathetic spouse, every partner will dream to live with us and have kids and live happily there after. Life will continue to be full of uncertainties and unpredictable realities. It is up to us to be the best in everything we do and be resilient, adaptable and patient. No force on earth can ever make a world class sportsperson give up in any sport. So is life. If we believe in ourselves and our capabilities and never give up, we will always be a winner in life.

As in the photo above, our life is like the birds on the lake. We do not know where we will land the next minute in our lives.

Let us not give up even before trying. We have to remember that only the best will survive in an ever competitive world.

S Ramesh Shankar

Joy of living

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I experience joy by enjoying the little things of life. I love the smell of the wet mud after the first rains. I love the song of nature when the birds are chirping during my morning walk. I love watching through the window when travelling on a long distance train. I love looking at the moon and wondering as to how it travels with me as I am zipping past it in a super fast train.

Life is celebration of the “Joy of little things” for me. My day begins with listening to birds and enjoying the music of nature. Then I enjoy the cartoon in the morning newspaper where the creator conveys a great message even without uttering a word through his caricatures. I admire the commitment of my maid and driver, who report for duty day in and day out without any excuses.

Each little thing in life adds joy to my life. The lyrics of a song fascinates me and make me glide in imagination. The sound of the sea waves in front of my house reminds me of the ups and downs of life. It makes me realise how the stones on the shore weather all the storm and still are ever willing to face the next wave. I admire the hard working fishermen who set to sail before dawn to end the day with no catch but yet try again the very next day.

The potter whom I met in a village taught me many lessons on contentment in life. You need not be rich to be happy in life. On the contrary, wealth can neither guarantee good health nor happiness in life. The village folk teach us to be in touch with nature and be grateful. We get greedy with the materialistic world and our greed invariably exceeds our needs and thus creates a lot of unnecessary frustration in our lives.

Watching the sun rise and the sunset gives me joy. I can spend hours watching the sun set and birds return to their nests. The art in the clouds during the twilight hour is to be seen to be believed. Every day is a new pattern and no designer or artist in the world can ever imagine it. I wonder how the stars twinkle in the night sky. It looks like a black carpet with diamonds sparkling on it.

I can spend a whole day watching children play in a park. I am amazed at the way they fight and then within minutes resolve their conflicts. They are willing to play and interact with other kids of different age groups. They do not look at caste, creed or social status while playing with each other. I wonder why human being lose all these wonderful qualities when we grow into an adult.

I love the mountains too. Trekking on a snow clad mountain can be breath taking, literally. However, when you reach the peak, you feel as if you are on the top of the Himalayas. The generosity of the people living in the hills melts your heart. They treat you as their guests in their homes when you go past their tenements. This phenomenon is rarely seen in urban communities.

Enjoying a swing in a hammock may be a small thing but gives joy to my spouse as in the photo above.

I also love to listen to music. I can spend hours together listening to jazz, ghazals or light instrumental music. Interestingly I write most of my blogs while I am in a flight listening to music using headphones. It transcends me to a different world and words flow through my keyboard like water gushing through the river. I sometimes wonder how these thoughts deep inside me find expression in words.

All these little things give joy to my life. How about you ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Quest for life and living…

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All of us may have learnt scientific inquiry as part of our school education. Most of us give up this spirit of inquiry as we transcend from childhood to adulthood. Very few of us have this spirit as a way of life. My sister’s husband was one such being. One can understand this spirit since he was a scientist in the Indian space research organisation for almost four decades.

Today I started my workday with a meeting as usual. I had kept my mobile phone in the silent mode. However I realised that some of my close relatives were continuously trying to reach me. When I sensed there could be an emergency, I interrupted the meeting and picked up the phone. It was indeed one of the saddest day of my life. I was informed that my brother in law had passed away. His name was K Natarajan and had served the Indian Space Research Organisation as a scientist.

He had got up in the morning and had gone to the rest room. When he did not return in reasonable time, his family members knocked the bathroom door. When he still did not respond, they broke open the door and called the doctor. The doctor examined and gave the sad news within minutes. He had died out of a massive heart attack while he was in the rest room.

This may be a very peaceful way to leave Mother Earth for himself. But, I could not imagine the fate of my sister, who was waiting outside with a cup of hot coffee for him to return. I could not imagine how one could wipe the tears of his mother, who is 94 and was staying with him. Life has its way of shocking us. We are rattled out of our normal being. We realise that life can change for any of us within minutes or even seconds.

I would say I was lucky. I had been to Trivandrum only last week for our leadership offsite. I spent a night with my sister and her family. I had spent hours discussing with him on various issues from politics, sports to spirituality. I have seen him from my childhood and have always admired his spirit of inquiry. He always explored knowledge and knowing about life and living.

He was a brilliant student and had an illustrious career in the Indian space research organisation in the field of electro optics. One could spend hours with him discussing on any subject. Apart from being well read, he was open to respect alternate view points and always stood by his views on all issues. I always admired his hand writing. It was almost like engraving in gold. I wish could I could have inherited his beautiful handwriting.

Another invaluable learning from him was his respect for elders and service to them. I still remember how he used to stay with my grandmother and take care of her when he was a student and took all opportunities to learn from her wisdom. He was very comfortable in interacting with people of all ages and used all mediums to interact. Today my son told me how he used to be the first to comment on his facebook posts and even wished him in German whenever he visited Germany for official work.

He took care of his mother right through his life. I had recently visited them and realised how blessed he was to be able to take care of his mother in her nineties. I did not know that today I would write his obituary in front of his mother, who is 94. Life teaches you many lessons the hard way. I cannot imagine how a mother in her nineties will feel losing her son in front her own eyes. I dread to think how my sister will lead the rest of her life without her life partner.

The photo above is symbolic of his family bonding and care.

I commit to live the spirit of inquiry and take care of elders to the best of my ability in life . This can be the only way I can pass on my tribute to him.

S Ramesh Shankar

22nd November 2017