Tuesday, May 24, 2016


 A pessimist is a person who habitually expects the worst outcome or one who always looks at the negative side of a situation. My father was one such person. When he faced any problems in life he would imagine the worst case scenario first before he moved forward to find a solution to the problem.
As a born optimist I found myself in constant conflict with my father`s views on several issues.
I remember one such incident. Within three years of starting my Advertising career in Mumbai  I decided to move out of the chawl where  my family was staying for over 26 years.  When I informed my father about my decision to move to a self-contained flat (Toilet attached!) in another suburb, he refused to move the family with me. His argument was that as against a rent of Rs.20/- per month he was paying for the chawl accommodation the rent of Rs.400/- per month I was planning to pay for the flat was way too high. According to him, if I lost my job (which was not a government job), the whole family would be on the streets. To his credit he did not stop me from moving into the flat but he was worried about my ability to manage the sudden leap in expense.Such pessimists are also described as ` Munjagiridhai Muthannas` (overcautious individuals) in Tamil. You will come across many such people in life.

I know of a friend who has a fetish about parking his car. Whenever he had to visit any person, event or attend a meeting, his first worry would  be about the availability of parking space in the place he was planning to visit.“That place -- parking is a nightmare yaar!” is a line you could hear him say often. Once I went with his family to visit a temple located within a large compound, with reasonable parking facility. As we were nearing the temple he saw a car parking area outside a station, at some distance away from the temple. He decided to park the car there and made us all walk the distance. When we reached the temple we found hardly any vehicles in the parking lot. When I questioned his decision to park the car at a distance his response was typical,` Suppose after reaching the temple we had  found no parking space I would have to go hunting for a parking space in these narrow lanes wasting time and petrol”
There are many pessimists, some of them suffering from paranoia, who are forever harbouring negative thoughts about something or the other making not only their own lives miserable but also the lives of their near and dear ones. 

A pessimist when he faces a problem,  his first response will be a negative expression like `Ay-Yo!` - On the other hand an optimist  will say- “Hi-Ah”, reflecting  a positive attitude towards the challenge posed by the problem. It takes all types to make this world.

( This article appeared in Adyar Times issue dt. 15-21st May,2016 uner my column `Rajan` Random Reflections)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Beach Friends

There is a world of difference between Train friends and Beach friends. In the train we become very friendly with fellow passengers in no time.  And we have no hesitation in exchanging our respective life stories with them, within the short time that we are together. We invariably find some remote connection and feel happy that we have become so close. At the end of the journey, after much hand shaking and hugging we promise to keep in touch with each other. That never happens.  Because we forget the train friends the moment weget down from the train.
On the other hand, beach friends who are friends you make while on a walk every morning on the beach front or wherever you go for regular walks are slow to cultivate. If you are a regular at a particular spot every morning/ evening you meet people whose faces become familiar to you. Over a period of time you try to express recognition of the face with a tentative smile. If the person responds you wish him `good morning` the next time you cross him/her.  Good morning becomes `Hi` in course of time. You still don`t know the person you are wishing. Until you find the stranger talking to a common friend. When you stop to have a word with your friend he /she introduces the stranger to you. For the first time you shake hands with the stranger who now has a name. Talking to the new friend you invariably find some common interests or connections.  You feel you have come closer to the stranger turned new friend. The next time when your paths cross you stop and exchange a few words. This could lead to exchanging contact details of social media you are active in - the latest craze being `WhatsApp`. Beginning of an enduring friendship is established leading to meeting such friends on other occasions. The bond becomes so strong that if you don`t see the familiar face for a few days during your morning walks, you miss the person.

While youngsters who come for walks have to rush back because they have a busy day ahead, there are no such pressures on senior citizens. After their morning walk some of them end up at a spot where a few friends are resting on the parapet wall or a bench in a garden.

It could be a small group. Or a bigger group - like the group I am associated with, consisting of people who are in their seventies or eighties. It is a mix of retired professionals from private/public sector, bureaucrats and even educators. Every morning  the group meets at a fixed time – exchanging the latest gossip in town or the political situation or a few jokes- some among the group specialize in non vegetarian jokes. Jokes at the expense of some members are not uncommon. You can judge from the boisterous laughter emanating from the group from time to time that everyone is having fun. I make it a point to spend 10 minutes with this group every morning and indulge in some throaty laughter considered good for the mind and body. Laughter a day keeps the doctor or the `blues` away!

Thanks to old age and poor memory I still don`t know the names of a few friends whom I meet every day. I think It doesn`t matter because we enjoy each other`s company and look forward to meeting every day. What`s in a name after all!

This article appeared in Adyar Times issue dt.  May 8-14, 2016 under my column Rajan`s Random Reflections