Perseverance

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One of the qualities all of us wish we had would be “Perseverance”. I have not come across many people in my life time, who are perseverant in the pursuit of their goals in life. An unflinching belief in yourself and a dogged pursuit of your goal is what you aspire for. But it is just an illusion for most of us. This is one quality, which I learnt from my father in law, who left on his heavenly abode on 20th August 2017.

A self made man from a poor middle class family. After losing his father at a young age, he got into the government service. He rose from the lowest levels to retire from service after more than three decades as a Chief Accounts officer. His passion for mathematics was visible. But, what I really admired about him is his passion to learn new things in life all the time.

I have seen many incidents in his life, which speak volumes of his learning attitude and his passion to persevere. He lived along with his spouse and till the age of eighty five and was fully self dependant. He neither depended on his kids financially nor otherwise. He lived in his self built house, cooked his own food and maintained everything around him with his own hands.

A master of mathematics and a voracious reader. His command over English was admirable. He would discuss and debate on all issues and always had a point of view. He would never be satisfied with any response unless he verified it himself and was convinced. At the age of eighty two, he took to writing a book. He wrote the manuscript in his own hand and then requested my wife to edit it and contribute to complete the same and publish it.

Another interesting attribute I have learnt from him is his meticulous maintenance of records and documents for everything. The accountant in him was embedded in his blood. But the systematic maintenance of household records is indeed worth emulation. Luckily for me my wife has learnt this quality from him. He would maintain the receipt and history of every asset in his house and neatly maintained and easily retrievable.

He was a well read and a pious person. He had deep knowledge of the scriptures and all the Hindu rituals. While he followed all religious practices, he never imposed his views on others. He was always open to be challenged and was willing to accept alternate view points on any issue. He had in depth knowledge of Hindu rituals and could easily challenge the priests on festive occasions if they took a short cut.

If a person can pursue his post graduation at the young age of 75 in order to fulfil one of his unfulfilled goals in life, it is worth adulation. I have not seen many people in my life time, who have persevered with such dreams and pursued it till success much after retiring from service as well. He was a man of letters. Well read in religion, current affairs and even medicine, where he could end up challenging doctors on a wrong prescription.

I recently visited him with my spouse on a courtesy call. While I was leaving his house, he asked me to explain – “What digitalisation means ? “. Honestly, I was stunned and had no answers. I told him that I will research and revert to him with an answer. I did tell him that it could mean applying technology to make human life better. But, I did go back and did a lot of research to understand the concept of digitalisation. But, unfortunately, he is not alive today for me to share with him.

I can only state that he was a perfectionist in the true sense of the word. A man, who would pursue till he got what he wanted. Of course at times it could be termed nagging and you may get irritated by his perseverance. After all , none of us are born only with virtues. But, the positives in him far outweighed his improvement areas. I salute him for his stature and am grateful to have learnt something from my interactions with him.

May his soul rest in peace.

S Ramesh Shankar

20th August 2017

Safety vis a vis Speed


I have always been fascinated by driving.  I love driving on the highways along with family and friends for a long road trip any day.  A long drive along the country side teaches you many things in life, which no class could do.  It helps you in advance planning.  It enables you to deal with any type of unforeseen circumstances.  It also makes you adapt to eating what you get on the way rather than what you desire.

Even in my youthful days when I first owned a second had fiat car, I used to love to drive fast.   All the kids in our family or friends circle used to jump on to my car only because they loved my speed. It was indeed thrilling.  The cars were not technologically advanced nor the roads were great.  There were hardly any safety features and hence the maximum speed on a highway could be 60 to 80 kms per hour.

I continued this driving style for many years in my life and was quite proud of the same.  I did take whatever safety precautions were necessary and possible.  I used to plan and ensure driving especially on the highways only from sun rise to sun set.  I normally did not drive more than 400 to 500 kms in a day as it gets tiring beyond that.  Today the cars are more advanced and the roads are excellent.  You are tempted to drive faster and keen to enjoy the thrill of speeding.

This attribute of mine continued for decades.   I can be honest to state that it was only about 5 years back that I realised that speed thrills but kills too.  As long as the road is empty and good, you can drive fast.  But it is important to wear your seat belts and keep the car under control.  On the highway, you never know how the others are going to drive.  Further, there could be traffic from the wrong side of the road like a tractor or a two wheeler.  This could further get unsafe with pedestrians or animals crossing the road at odd places.

Now after spending decades enjoying the thrill of driving in the city and on the highways, I realise that speed thrills but kills.  It takes the same time to reach your destination if you drive at high speed or at reasonable and safe speed.  If you drive at high speed, you enjoy that moment but then have to slow down the moment you see a pedestrian or a vehicle on the opposite side and this not only slows down your car but also damages the brake pads and other parts of the car.

It is better to care for safety than speed.  As long as you are safe and can drive at reasonable speeds, it is not only enjoyable for you but you reach your destination safely and in the same time period. Thus this may be a life lesson for me.   I continue to enjoy my driving as a hobby and have a car, which has all the basic features of safety.  We ensure that we are wearing the seat belts always in the front and the rear seat and are at reasonable speeds, wherein the car is in full control and safe.

In conclusion, I would say it is safety with speed which is thrilling and not speed alone.  We not only have to care for our own safety but all the people on the road.  It is true that all over the world the maximum accidents happen on the road.  Unfortunately, it is the highest number in our country.  So, let us resolve today to be safe always and still enjoy speed.

Safety first, speed next.

S Ramesh Shankar
January 2017