Hurt

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I always wonder why some people do not realise how much they hurt others by their words and deeds. Today I heard of an incident where someone’s mother was admitted in a hospital and was recovering. One of her relatives who came in to see her mother instead of encouraging and consoling her, told her unabashedly that you are wasting your money on her treatment since your mother is not going to live long.

I was shocked and dismayed even to hear this incident. First of all this relative was not a doctor. Secondly, she was neither supporting this person financially nor emotionally to treat her mother. Then, I fail to understand what pleasure a person can get to make such unforgivable statements especially to a daughter attending on her mother in a hospital. You can hurt someone unknowingly and it is forgivable but if someone hurts you knowingly what do you do ?

I do understand all of us end up hurting people around us by our words or deeds some way . We may not realise it as and when it happens. However, we do regret when we realise it and seek forgiveness from the person we have hurt or from God for our cruel behaviour. In this instance, the relative was her aunt. It is beyond my imagination to even think of why people behave this way. I can understand how deeply hurt this person may have felt.

We are brought up by our parents and they sacrifice everything in life to give us comfort and joy in life. They never think twice before spending money on you for your betterment. As we grow up, our parents get old and sometimes they do fall sick and become immobile. It is at this time we need to think of how we can serve our parents. We can never in our life time repay the non financial debt of service our parents have rendered to us. In my view, it is a sin even to think of not treating them well.

In this case, the relative who made these scandalous statements was her mother’s sibling. Her mother had been like a mother to her since the age gap between them is quite a lot and her mother had died at a young age. So instead of being grateful to her and helping the family financially or otherwise to treat her mother, this person ends up making such regrettable statements. I will never recommend that we should even make such statements for our enemies if we are human beings.

All of us are materialistic in life and we accumulate wealth during our youth to take care of ourselves in our old age. We need to realise that serving our elders is a rare opportunity God provides to some of us in our life time. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity. We need to consider it our privilege and honour to serve our parents and take care of them when they need us most.

If we think spending money on our parents or elders hospitalisation is waste of money just because they are old and immobile today, we are inhuman in thought and action. We have to realise that all of us will grow old some day and imagine our children thinking the same way and leaving you in a hospital unattended because they think spending money on your treatment is not a wise thing to do.

Some of us realise our mistakes in our life time. It is possible that some of us never realise it in this life time. Hence, I understand why the Hindu religion says that human being has seven births. This may be because God gives us six more chances to repent for our errors in life. I pray to God that all of us treat our elders with respect and dignity. We treat them the way we want to be treated by our children in the future.

Hurt is like the the shedding of the leaves by the trees during autumn. When someone hurts you, you feel barren like the trees may feel when their leaves shrug off.

Let us learn to forgive such inhuman humans and pray to God that he will bestow them with wisdom in this life or the next.

S Ramesh Shankar

Broken Relationships..


Life is a web of relationships.  It starts with the family and then extends to school, college and organisations.  We meet friends, colleagues and well wishers everywhere.  Our life revolves around these relationships.  We gain from some and lose from others.  But then we learn to live with them and deal with them as it evolves.  Some help us move on in life while others teach us to slow down and change course.

Every relationship is unique.  It starts with your family.  Your parents and siblings are the first you connect with.  You get close to your mother or father.  You trust them blindly and consult them for everythinig in life.  Sometimes one of your siblings also becomes a friend and you are able to discuss all issues under the sun.  Then you get out of home to college and then to work.  Now, you develop friendships with colleagues.

This process of building relationships all around you is an integral part of your life.  One of these relationship blossoms and you tend to get closer by the day.  It becomes symbiotic and mutually rewarding.  When it happen between two sexes, you tend to get attracted to each other through mind, body and soul.  This blossoms into a partnership.  You tend to believe that you cannot live without each other.  It is gratifying when this relationship fructifies into a life long partnership through a marriage.

But sometimes life takes a different turn and the person you are closest to ditches you, leaves you and deserts you when you least expect that to happen.  Your life is shattered.  You question the meaning of life and no words of consolation can console you.  You believe that life is unfair to you.  It is only time, which can heal you and this experience is to be gone through to be believed.  It is painful to say the least.

But after you get over it, life becomes easier for you.  You tend to believe that you are made of steel.  No force on earth can melt you.  No hurt can destroy you.  You believe you can now live life on your own terms.  It is like the fire melting and moulding the steel into shape in a furnace.  Your life is now moulded  through tough experiences of the past to take up any challenge in the future.

You become reflective on life.  You tend to believe that everyone goes though ups and downs and it is up to us to take it in our stride and deal with it.  There are no full stops in life.  Life is full of commas and semicolons.  You need to take a deep breadth and if needed medidate a bit and move on.  It is easier said than done.  But life is like that.  How can we define life in all its colours to anyone ?  

We neither can imagine what will happen the next hour, next day or even the week ahead ?  So, why break our head.  Let us deal with life as it comes.  In a way, if you are destined to go through tough times at an early stage of your life, the better it is for you.  It makes you determined.  It toughesns you and you are ready to take on anything in life.  Like in the photo above, you pick up your strands to rebuild your life even if your partner deserts you when you least expected it to happen. You have to learn to deal with the waves of life on your own terms and then become a winner.

Let us lead life the way we want to rather then get bogged down by the obstacles on our way.  It is like the river flowing down the mountains.  It may take months or days to wade through rocks but the river never stops.

Lets learn to move on.

S Ramesh Shankar

Expectations Management

One of my colleagues enquired if I could write on “Expectations management”. I thought it was an interesting subject and hence readily agreed. Someone interestingly said that frustration is the gap between achievement and hope. We are continually trying to live up to the expectations of all the people around us. When we succeed, we are elated and when we don’t we feel dejected.

Today, expectations begin even before you are born. Our parents are expecting us to be a girl or a boy depending on their wish. If we fulfil their wish, they are delighted and if we do not, they are disappointed. So, we possibly need to learn to manage expectations even before we are born. Then once born, we grow up and when it time to get into a school, most parents wish you get admission in the best school. The competitive race of life begins here.

Then we are out of school and we have to manage expectations of parents, teachers, relatives, friends and even the community around us. Each of these people have different expectations from us. While every parent wants the child to pursue the best of education, every teacher wishes the child excel in her or his subject of choice. Relatives and friends are awaiting your success in academics to celebrate with you and your family. The community around you wants to take pride in your accomplishments.

Let us assume you are able to live up to the expectations of all of them. This may be easier said than done. You may want to be a doctor and your parents want you to be a engineer. Your relatives and friends feel you should pursue music as a career since you are good at it. So, meeting conflicting expectations and still pursuing what you want to do in life is a tough ask. You may delight some and upset some other well wishers in your life.

Now, you have finished your formal education and want to pursue your passion in life. You have graduated as a doctor and want to go to the villages to serve the most needy. Your parents are worried about living conditions. Your friends, relatives and neighbours are worried that you will not be available for them. The community around you is looking forward to benefit from your services. They are disappointed that you are moving away to serve in a village.

Apart from all of them around you, you sometimes are not able to live up to your own expectations. The champions in every walk of life set very high standards for themselves. They do not rest till they are able to surpass their own expectations every day of their lives. So, whatever your accomplishment in your life, you may feel you have a lot to achieve in the future. Excellence is a journey that never ends. It is like a train which has no destination.

Another dimension of expectation management is when you get married. Both spouses have expectations from each other. When we do not meet each others’ expectations, it results in avoidable conflict. There is no magic wand to balance expectations from each other. But two way communication, mutual respect, active listening and adapting to each other may help us bridge our expectations with each other.

With all these complexities of life, how do you meet the expectations of all the stake holders in your life. It depends on how we set our own expectations. While we may not be able to set expectations before we are born or even as a kid, it may be desirable to do it as we grow into an adult. We should calmly negotiate with the relevant stakeholders what to expect from us in every stage of life. We may not be able to live up to everyone’s expectations. But we are not bound to do so either. We should live up to our own expectations and have the courage to manage the rest.

Whether it is your friends as in the photo above or colleagues at work, relatives or family members, we need set and reset our expectations as per the needs of the environment.

We have to develop the ability to negotiate expectations. This may be with our parents, relatives, teachers, friends or even our colleagues at work. We have to be clear on what we want to do and then we need to pursue that with passion without hurting anyone around us. As we learn to be focussed and persuasive, we will realise that we can wade our way through the mesh of life and achieve what we want to.

Do you want to try ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Violence in society

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Not a day passes today without a report of violence in some part of the world. Our newspapers, magazines and TV channels are brimming with headlines of violent incidents around the world. Why cannot we have peace around the world ? Why do we have rapists torturing innocent children ? Whey do we have school children wielding guns and killing innocent people ? Why do terrorists attack innocent citizens ?

Every violent incident is reported in newspaper headlines and debated on TV channes to give sadistic pleasure to some people. I am trying to understand the root cause of this behaviour in society. I cannot believe any religion in the world propagates or supports violence. I am not well read on religions of the world,not even of Hinduism to which I belong. But my limited knowledge teaches me that no religion teaches us to practise violence in any form.

After deep reflection, I have come to the conclusion that our family, education system and societal and political values are responsible for today’s tragic state of affairs. Let me try to delve on each of these three root causes and find answers of how each of us can contribute to change this situation for our future generations.

Let us first reflect on our family system. Family is the basic unit of society. Today the foundations of family as a social institution is threatened. This is true around the world. While we may justify our moving from joint families to nuclear families due to career aspirations or individual ambitions, this has led to breaking of family as an institution. The elders in the family played the role of mentor and guide for the younger members. Today we do not have mentors or guides within the family system. The inculcation of family values is fading in society.

If we move to schools, our education system is becoming more commercial than educational. The sole objective of most of the schools and colleges is to make money. They are less concerned about producing the future citizens of their country. Educational institutions have failed to maintain standards and inculcate values in their students. If at all students learn that earning money and that too at any cost is one of the prime objectives of individuals in society. Educational institutions need to partner with parents and society to inculcate the right values in the younger generations.

Political parties and social groups are perpetuating violence in some form or the other. While in power they do everything to suit their convenience at the cost of society. When out of power they obstruct the working of the government and support violence in every form so that government in power earns a bad name. This is further accentuated by the apathy of the citizens. We are willing to accept the violence and crime against innocent citizens by the rogues of society. These rogues do not have any religion or nationality. They are criminals and have no place in society. They continue to thrive because of political support from all shades of society. We cannot even call them animals as that would be an insult to animals. Animals are more faithful to humans than such unscrupulous elements in society.

While fire may symbolise violence in society, we need to find ways to put off the fire by our actions and use it only for prayers and peaceful purposes as in the photo above.

What can we do as citizens ? In my view, we can play the role of mentors to our children and younger members of our family to inculcate the right values. We can promote and support educational institution which produce great citizens for the future and boycott those which commercialise education. We can boycott politicians and political parities which supports rapists, murderers and corruption in public life. This can be done by our participating in every election and voting for honest citizen to be our representatives in legislatures and parliament. Every political party has honest members and we need to support and promote them.

It is time to wake up and take charge ? My 3 simple steps are just nascent ideas. What do you think ? What are your ideas ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Taking for granted ?


Do we take people for granted ?  I assume we do.  It starts from the family and then extends to society and organisations too.  Let us start from the family. Do we take our parents for granted ?  Yes we do.  We almost assume that they are duty bound to take care of us and our needs for the rest of our lives.  We are not much bothered about them but if they do not support us when we need them we feel betrayed.  

The story is not very different with our spouses.  Whether we both are working spouses or not, it is a fact that we take each other for granted.  Let us assume that our spouse is not working in an organisation but a home maker.  We almost imagine that they do not have much work and no tensions at home.  If we  get what we want at home on time, we assume that it is their responsibility and hence take it for granted.

On the contrary, let us assume that both spouses are working.  Even in this situation, we do not balance home and office work.  We tend to take for granted that our wives will take care of our home as we are busy at work.  We do not even realise that our wives also have work pressures and balancing home and work is not easy.  Hence, taking your wife for granted is more true than not.

Now, let us move to the organisational sphere.  Do we take our team members, colleagues and bosses for granted ?  Yes, it is true that many of us are so self centred that we look at the world only from own prisms.  We are not much concerned as to how it impacts our team or even our peers.  We take them for granted.  Sometimes, we also take our bosses for granted and assume that they will cover up for us in any crisis.

Why is it that we take everyone in life for granted ?  I assume it is a psychological phenomenon.  Human beings tend to believe that the whole world exists to support them.  We assume our family members, colleagues at work and members of the community are duty bound to help us to be successful in life. When this belief becomes one sided, that is where we start taking people for granted.  

The moment we start believing that we have to give before we take help from others, this problem will perish.  We have to learn to respect everyone and not take anyone for granted in life.  There is nobody in life, who is obligated to you.  We are born alone and will die alone.  But, we need the support of everyone in life to be successful.  Help is always mutual and respect is earned rather than given.  Hence, taking people for granted could lead to more distress than happiness.

We should neither take people or things for granted.  It is like taking a turn while driving your car by looking only at one of your side view mirrors as shown in the photo above.  This is like the driver taking his skills for granted.

Let us learn to respect people from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Technology & me

Technology & me

I always wonder if technology rules me or I rule technology.  When I was young, I did not have to think much on this subject.  But, as I grew older, technology seems to have taken over my life. While I am a great fan of technology, I sometimes wonder if technology helps me or harms me in my every day life.  Let us take the simple example of the mobile phone.  There is research around the world that the mobile is never more than three feet away from a human being at any point of the day or night.  This means that we depend more on the mobile than the mobile depends on us.

I think all of us have immensely benefited from technology.  I grew up when we had not seen the advent of computers.  We did not even have the television in our homes.  So, the journey from living in an era of no mobiles, TV or computers to an age where the world is fully digitised has been an exciting one. I remember the early days in my career when I had to travel more than ten kilometres to make a long distance call after waiting for my turn in a long queue.  It used to take hours of waiting in long queues and we paid through our nose for talking to our parents for just a few minutes using long distance telephone calls.

Today technology touches  us in every aspect of our life.  If we refelect on it, from the time we get up from bed till we sleep, technology supports us in many ways.  We are woken up by the alarm on our mobile phones and do not need the sound of birds or the classic alarm clock with us.  Then, we do not need to read the newspapers to know what has happened around the world.  We are connected to the world through our mobile apps and we get alerted of news events around the world within minutes of its occurrence.

If we extend to the work place, computers have changed the way we work.  The work place is no more sacrosanct.  Work moves along with you wherever you are in the world.  The ubiquitous mobile phone helps you as an office assistant with calendar reminders, emails, clock, fitness tracker and many more useful aids.  We are connected with the world on the internet and decisions are taken on issues by people sitting in different parts of the world seamlessly.  All this has been possible only due to the advent of technology.

Hence, in spite of all these benefits, why do we feel that technology is managing us rather than we managing it.  It may be because of our greedy nature.  It may be because we have become over dependant on technology.  I remember that we used to have  the landline numbers of most of our family and friends in our memory.  Today thanks to the mobile phone we do not even remember the numbers of our close family members.  Some may argue that this is convenience and hence we need not remember any phone numbers any more.  I agree.  But, there seems to be a side effect and we need to worry about that.

The side effect of technology overwhelming us is that we are losing our humanness.  We do not remember the birthdays of our family, friends or colleagues.  We do not have the time to visit a dear one in a hospital.  We have no time to play with our kids in the park.  We have no time to admire and enjoy nature.  We are more content by the number of likes to a post on social media. We get depressed if nobody comments on our post for a few minutes.

Like in the photo above while bluetooth headphones can be a great technology to listen to music, it may sometimes make you inattentive to people around you.

I believe technology is a great enabler for us.  But, may be it is time to touch people and use technology.  We are ending up using people and touching technology.  Technology does not have emotions but people have.  Let us resolve to share our feelings with our near and dear rather than use technology to do so.

Today is the most auspicious day to begin. Lets just do it.

S Ramesh Shankar

The gregarious neighbour


In life, one is blessed to have a wonderful neighbour.  I have had this privilege on a few occasions as I have cris-crossed the nation as part of my career.  In life, you neither can choose your parents nor your colleagues at work.  Similarly, you do not have the privilege of choosing your neighbour.  It was by chance that I bought a flat and moved in.  The neighbour moved in as a tenant. 

We hardly knew each other and generally met only in the lift while going up or down to work or on an outing.  We exchanged smiles and greetings and that was the only introduction.  My wife, me and my kids were very touched by their warmth and helpfulness.  They were a young couple with three kids.  Both husband and wife were always welcoming and greeted you with smiles.

In my less than two years of being their neighbour, I have never seen them in conflict with anyone in our society nor create any ruckus.  They were a sporting couple and always willing to help others.  I always used to silently admire them.  One day they invited us home for a cup of tea.  We realised that we were from different states and different age groups but there was something in common between us.

I admired their friendliness and we shared our feelings with them when we met them.  Interestingly enough they reciprocated our feelings.  I realised that in life, if you need good neighbours, you have to be good.  If you expect others to smile, you need to smile.  If you are helpful, others are more than keen to help you.  Age, caste, creed, religion or nationality does not matter at all.

I moved out of that flat to move to my newly built home in another part of the city.  But, we continued to be friends exchanging calls, messages and greetings through phone and social media.  Occasionally we met for lunch or dinner.  But, even if we did not meet, we had great rapport and respect for each other.  We evolved as friends for life and nurtured our relationship.

Today, if I look back, we stay in two different cities and lead our own busy lives.  But, we still are in touch with each other. We still look for opportunities to talk to each other and wish each other.  We celebrate the successes of each other and are more than willing to share any sorrow between us.  Once a friend, always a friend. I think one is blessed in life to have such neighbours.

I recently was chatting with her and it occurred to me that this family is a great source of inspiration for us.  They taught us to live life happily and share your joy with others.  Both husband and wife partnered to nurture our friendship and sustain it.  They enabled each other to pursue their passion in life and always sported a smile all the time.

I wish and pray to God to bless all of us with such neighbour in life.  

What do you say ?

S Ramesh Shankar