Monthly Archives: March 2016

A walk with my Grandfather

Some of us are lucky. We get to spend a lot of time with our grandparents.  🙂

Perhaps, most of us in the 60’s/70’s generation have been pampered more by our grandparents than our parents.  The “more” has not become “less”, but with parents stepping in to do a lot more pampering, the gap seems to have reduced.

I lost my maternal grandfather, when I was 2-3 years old. The only memories I have are through photos with him, and the stories I have heard from family.

Luckily, I got to spend some more time with my paternal grandfather. I remember spending time with him from the early 70’s till ’77 – the last time I got to spend time with him. We exchanged a few post cards in the late 70’s, but I did not get to see him before he passed away in Feb 1980.

Most of the time spent with him was while holidaying in Bangalore. He & my grandmother found it difficult to deal with the extremes of the Delhi weather, and spent very little time with us in our home in Delhi.

My standout memory of him involves a short walk that we took in Jayanagar, Bangalore. It was in our 1975 holidays. On a late afternoon in June, he decided to walk from 32nd Cross, 16th Main to 39th ‘F’ Cross, 18th Main. From one son’s home to another’s.

He gave me a lesson in defensive walking, if one can call it that. In a time when the traffic was far less, almost negligible, and the pavements were broader, though just solid mud, he told me about how one should always walk facing the traffic. Even on the pavement. Given the number of “Cross” roads in Jayanagar, this was a good input. In the days before indicators on vehicles, one had to keep their eyes on the vehicles approaching to see if they showed any indication of turning onto the road that you planned to cross!

The other thing that I remember about that short walk was him pointing out the large trees or open grounds as markers. “When you see this large tree, turn right”. “Take a left on the second road after the ground”. Even today, one can possibly find me, gaping at a large tree in awe, hopefully with my mouth closed…but then you need to be around to confirm that. 😉

Screenshot 2016-03-08 at 19.34.03

The walk – From 32nd Cross, 16th Main to 39th ‘F’ Cross, 18th Main

Luckily the pavements are still wide. Many of the houses are still homes, but even this part of Jayanagar is getting commericalised now. When that happens, trees inside are felled, and motorbikes are parked on the pavement.

Some pics from July 2014 when I retraced this path on a cycle

 

 

Final word: Watch out for the combination of young and old taking a walk in your neighbourhood…who knows what memories are being created right there! 🙂

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Factual Thinking

Facts & Opinions.

Hopefully you know how to differentiate between them. No? Well this should help then.

It is a fact that my weight is closer to 100 kg than 70 kg. It is someone’s opinion that I am a fat slob! I will not say who, but they know 😀

There. Now you know the difference. But, I want you to go one step further. How do we use facts? In our thinking. In our conversations. In our decision making.

Typically, most of use only those facts that are suitable to our point of view. In effect, our point of view, may influence what facts that we look for, and make us discard the inconvenient ones. Rare are those humans, who are capable of looking at all facts, and then alter their point of view accordingly.

One reason for this not being a strong point amongst us in India is our schooling system. It encourages being “right” over being “different”. Compliance is the key. We encourage debates to choose a winner, not a solution.  We encourage the habit of looking at facts selectively.

So, what could be done differently?

There is not much emphasis given to teaching students on how to solve problems taking into account all the facts, as well as opinions, available. This approach has been codified by the famous Edward de Bono, through various approaches for thinking and acting (as in taking action), and these are available through books  that are easy to understand.

I think it is Amartya Sen who has written in one of his books that ancient India was known for a debating style that was more inclusive. While, he has not connected this to whether the debates were based on facts or ideas alone, or a combination of both, but I would not at all be surprised to find a reference that is similar to the approach outlined by de Bono. Perhaps such an approach (let me know if you know of it) might be more acceptable to the educators in India. The key is to choose the appropriate weightage for facts, and for opinions. Include both, but try not to allow one to dominate the other.

So much so for the process. The real benefit of including this aspect in the teaching methodology will be seen in a few years time. As I see it, the more number of youngsters we have in this country who are able to avoid the trap of choosing facts selectively in the process of solving problems, the better are the chances that they will make more meaningful contribution (definitely more than me! hopefully more than you?) to the nation. Learning to deal with opinions, especially one’s different from own’s, should be a part of the learning

In a recent interview, Fali Nariman, the experienced lawyer, credited Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former PM, with the ability to take people along with him in the decision making process. If our polity could only learn from his legacy, and stop taking rigid stances, we could all benefit immensely.

So, what do you do when faced with inconvenient facts?

PS: I tried to get my sons to view all the facts about how their football club actually operates. Placed certain inconvenient facts about how the footballers they admire so much, could help subsidise the exorbitant ticket prices of the clubs they play for, by lowering their salaries, but choose not to. Not interested they said! 😉