Saturday, July 27, 2013

Age and Happiness


Photo from Home of Dr. Ashok Malhotra, July 2013
An aging friend of mine was commenting on how much fun it was to indulge in romantic episodes, something that youth and younger persons usually enjoy. My response was that personally I do not care for that sort of thing much now, although it was a pursuit for sure when I was younger.

One finds that from childhood to old age, what fascinates one most in life changes and that is how it should be. It is rather silly to see old men like Rupert Murdoch romancing.  It is business persons quite often who go in for that sort of thing even in old age perhaps because they feel that now that they have the money they should do something of value with it or perhaps because they were so busy in the pursuit of wealth in their younger days that they did not get time to enjoy lunch, when it was lunch time and are now having to partake of some very late in the night, metaphorically speaking. ( there is a story about that in this blog at http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2010/10/in-pursuit-of-happiness.html) It is not only silly but is often also damaging, physically, psychologically and spiritually when a human indulges in a pleasure inappropriate for his or her age.

Reading story books fascinated me when I was a child. As a young man I was fascinated by travel and I pursued that to my hearts content traveling from one end of the world to the other. At around forty five or so I suddenly found that travel does not excite me any more and can in fact be rather tiring.

Now past sixty, two of the things that have given me most pleasure (aside from educational, spiritual, philanthropic and philosophical pursuits) are interacting with a grand child or communing alone in silence with nature –flowers, trees, birds, lakes, forests, rivers and mountains. Over here in India one does not have to go far for that during the monsoon season. Even a home garden can fill up with flowers and green as the photo shows. I snapped it this morning.

UPDATE: July 29,  added a link in the post today that goes deeper into the topic of happiness in general . This one: http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2010/10/in-pursuit-of-happiness.html
It is must read for anyone who wishes to acquire a deeper understanding between the relationships of happiness to love and money.

41 comments:

Vincent said...

I see you have modified the post since its first publication; and note that it’s still a mingling of personal reflection & general comment on social behaviour.

All I wanted to say was to do with the latter; that this is an area where long-standing cultural differences between East and West may persist, because they are deep-rooted. Change in attitudes happens faster in the West, partly because tradition is less revered, and partly because of technological advances.

I think the attitudes are profoundly different and it is impossible to examine one strand of life on its own, or judge one culture from the viewpoint of another.

Having said that, it’s interesting to try. For my part I’ve started to read The Satanic Verses, which I understand remains banned in India, for the light it shows on the East-West divide and also to give me a deeper understanding of Islam from a more broad-minded perspective than one can usually find.

I’m surprised to find that it’s a most entertaining and absorbing book, as well as helping me understand traditional Indian attitudes and how they evolve in the hothouse of modern life, e.g. the world of Bollywood & wealthy classes.

ashok said...

Vincent give up this East, west thing at least for my line of thought because I have lived in and belong to both and represent the unified world view in all my posts. My attitudes have nothing at all to do with traditional Indian or Eastern attitudes but are closer to those of Canada where I worked, did my doctorate and developed my thoughts most.

ashok said...

Vincent I love the way that you fall on this East- West trap and that is why I enjoy your comments so much. But alas, the world, or at least the highly educated one has moved on with internet, globalisation, travel, times and much more, so that one may not be able to pick out any more in many cases which is East and which is West. I miss the nostalgia though of old times when those differences made the world colorful and love oldies who still retain an illusion of those characteristics but alas the world is losing them.

A result of advanced education is that one does not remain rooted in any one cultural mode of thought but develops one's own unique one's.

ashok said...

Perhaps I must correct the mention of Canada in a previous comment. That is a major strain but then I grew up in a town seeped near completely in British Culture, a British culture of the late nineteenth century and spent a part of mt working years in the Arab world too and those influences too have undoubtedly contributed to my world view, however I do like to believe that I have benefited from the best of the eastern point of view too, especially as regards spiritual sources, if not life style and cultural.

Vincent said...

I say it because I've had other Indian friends, who were young men at the time, and their attitudes to love and marriage were very different to those I had been brought up with. I see the same thing where I live, including my neighbours in this street, the older ones born in Pakistan.

The East-West difference is enormous and the gap is seldom crossed, amongst these people. Their culture is deeply ingrained and those who have lived here 60 years are the most conservative of all, yet their attitudes are passed down to their great-grandchildren - even though you would think they would bring disadvantage.

ashok said...

Yes amongst those who are not very well educated some sort of attitudes may persist because they are not able to figure and reason out things for themselves and also they do not lead sufficiently independent lives to free themselves of the attitudes of others they surround themselves with.

Yes, I know you spent several decades under the influence of an Eastern Guru and also must be influenced by a spouse from a vastly different cultural background.

However, as I said what I write and think and live is something that is beyond these different cultural worlds. Such differences do not interest me. They are superficial to humanity and subject to change with influence. I steer clear of them.

What interest me is fundamental to life and humanity in general, combining in it the best of many different worlds, or at least I hope so and attempt to achieve through constant learning and improvement from across the world.

ashok said...

Yes amongst those who are not very well educated some sort of attitudes may persist because they are not able to figure and reason out things for themselves and also they do not lead sufficiently independent lives to free themselves of the attitudes of others they surround themselves with.

Yes, I know you spent several decades under the influence of an Eastern Guru and also must be influenced by a spouse from a vastly different cultural background.

However, as I said what I write and think and live is something that is beyond these different cultural worlds. Such differences do not interest me. They are superficial to humanity and subject to change with influence. I steer clear of them.

What interest me is fundamental to life and humanity in general, combining in it the best of many different worlds, or at least I hope so and attempt to achieve through constant learning and improvement from across the world.

Perhaps my attitude is best viewed in the design of the Garden in the photo of this post, every leaf and bit of path, every brick is entirely my own choice and imagination, generously augumented by Mother Nature as always. Perhaps we should invite Keiko Amano to comment on the cultural aesthetics of it she being an expert in this sort of thing also from an across the world experience and attitude.

keiko amano said...

Hi Ashok and Vincent,

Thank you for this invitation. I've read both arguments and enjoyed it.

First, I believe Salman Rushdie married multiple times. He is 66 and his either wife or girlfriend is about 30. So, according to Vincent's theory, his writing probably reveals the POV of West even if the author made the narrator speaking in the POV of East.

Second: "Such differences do not interest me. They are superficial to humanity and subject to change with influence. I steer clear of them." Subject to change with influence is so human. I'm sure Vincent had gone through it. So, with good influence, Ashok could fall in love in any minutes if right person happens to pass by on his road and drop her handkerchief!

Vincent said...

Thanks both for these clarifications. What I'm finding in Salman Rushdie is not an autobiographical bias but a satirical look at both east and west. There are novelists who draw more on their own feelings and experiences, and those who observe and reflect. Rushdie is certainly more respected for the insights of his novels than from what he reveals of himself in his autobiography, which I haven't read but I gather that people don't like what they see in him.

It's true that my neighbours are not well-educated, but even the highly educated Asians I know have a split life: they can think and act as Britishers, say, when in that company and when the occasion demands it, but think and behave otherwise in the company of relatives. I don't speak of yourself and I recognize there are exceptions.

Actually my wife is of the same cultural background as myself, though she spent her first fifty years in Jamaica. We were brought up to have a knowledge of the Bible, without either of us being Christians, and practise the same standards of law-abiding decency. Jamaica was a British colony till 1963 and the influence runs deep, though since then there are American influences too, as so many Jamaicans went to the States to work, and came back.

In my many years with the Guru, I felt as you do, that the differences between East and West have been transcended. But it was a special case, a culture of its own, based on a certain kind of Indian-ashram culture from which the Indian elements were progressively washed out.

But I am sceptical about your idea of "combining ... the best of many different worlds"; mainly because I think the whole notion of "best" is a matter of individual choice. For myself, the older I get, the happier I am to be English, though I am technically an immigrant.

Vincent said...

May I change the subject a moment and address Keiko? When K & I went back to my old university for a 50th anniversary of my graduation we visited their new modern languages building and had a starter lesson in Japanese, from a young Japanese lecturer. She taught us things like hello and goodbye (which I've forgotten, but also how to count from 1 to 100, by playing Bingo! I know the numbers only phonetically: itchi, nee, san, yawn, go, roku, nana, hachi, kyu, ju. I hope that's right!

keiko amano said...

Vincent,

Wow! Thank you for letting me know that you took a Japanese lesson. I'm so delighted.

Your Japanese pronunciation is marvelous. "itchi, knee, san, yawn" sounds absolutely hilarious. Whatever it takes is the way to learn. Let me know about your progress time to time. Maybe, you can establish a revolutionary way to learn the Japanese language. Smiles.

Keiko

ashok said...

Thanks for all your comments Keiko

I love your comment

"Ashok could fall in love in any minutes if right person happens to pass by on his road and drop her handkerchief!"

and believe it to be true :)

ashok said...

Vincent grow out of the cultural divide.

Look at issues without any such bias, on their own merit, particularly now in the modern world where it may not apply at all, and mislead you.

I am glad you have been able to do it as far as K is concerned for a start and also glad you regard yourself as British because your passport says so even being an Aussie from down under genetically who has experienced and lived with a variety of cultures.

ashok said...

That reminded me. i read long ago, of Agatha Christe and Miss Marple who used her study of the 'human type' in her investigation to deadly effect. I too have have found her technique effective in dealing with people and at one stage also tried to use the analogous concept of trying to use the perceived or even assumed cultural background of the speaker for understanding issues and thoughts and found that it does not work but rather misleads one badly. Therefore dropped it and now examine chains of thought on their own merit.

However, when it comes to things like food preferences for guests/friends I still make use of their cultural background rather successfully and if Keiko were to visit me here I would offer her a bowl of steamed rice with a few more of Tempura, stir fried chicken in soy sauce and ginger and a bowl of green salad

For you Vincent we shall have a breakfast of bacon and eggs, a lunch of sandwiches and a dinner of a roast crown of lamb with some potatoes and steamed peas (for which no spoon shall be provided) followed by a desert of cherries and strawberries in custard

In my case though using my national identity as revealed by my passport for guessing my food preferences will badly mislead and a fare from the 'Bull and Butcher' near Piss hill might be much better :)

keiko amano said...

I'll revise one to ten in Japanese as "itchy, knee, son, yawn, go, lock, nana, hatch, queue, ju." Vincent started this method. I'm going to show this on FB.

keiko amano said...

Vincent,

I have posted on my FB timeline as follows.

My blogger friend, Vincent, has given me this idea. He said he has gone to a Japanese language class for beginners and learned to count one to ten. I thought his method of pronunciation interesting. For people who still have problems in remembering the Japanese numbers, here it is although I've edited a little.

"itchy, knee, son, yawn, go, lock, nana, hatch, queue, ju."
 1  2  3  4  5 6  7   8   9 10

Then, Tsunematsu san added his comment. I recommend him to you, Vincent. He is the owner of Natsume Sohseki Museum in London. Why don't you go there and meet him and then tell me about the meeting? That'll be fun.

https://www.facebook.com/tsune.sammy

ashok said...

Very soon itchy, nee, son I shall be counting in Japanese too :)

Vincent said...

I have to confess to you that I did not invent this system of learning the numbers. The teacher handed out a sheet (click here) to help us learn.

I'll post some other pictures of that day.

Sorry, I don't really know how to use Facebook to join that conversation with Sammy.

Vincent said...

And here is a picture of our teacher:

click here

ashok said...

We appear to have diverted from the topic into a world of numbers.

Vincent said...

I apologize, Ashok. The diversion was caused by age and happiness.

keiko amano said...

Thank you, Vincent. I cut and paste the site to Tsunematsu san.

Ashok, without this post, we would have missed this great topic. I appreciate your blog.

keiko amano said...

I noticed your title, "Age and Pleasure," changed to "Age and Happiness."

That's a great move!

ashok said...

If we were on Face book I would have clicked like on your comment Vincent. You do have a page there and if you try to use it you would figure your way around. I and keiko have great fun of Facebook.

ashok said...

Keiko, yes I revised the post a bit and changed the name too. The new name fits in better with rest of the blog. I am quite certain you agree with the contents because of the immense happiness Clementine has given you recently.

keiko amano said...

It's funny. I tried to look for a like button and cannot find!

I wonder what your new grandchild's name will be. If the baby is boy, how about Ashok?

ashok said...

Keiko, I will pass that on to Keya, my daughter but eventually it would be she and her husband who will choose. Her name Keya sounds bit Japanese. is it a Japanese name too? and if so what does it mean. Over here is means a flower, it is an ancient name for a flower and I never found out what flower it is. It is quite a story as to how we gave her that name.

keiko amano said...

I've never heard of Keya in Japanese. But I've looked for it in my dictionary, and it said according to the Ten-Thousand-Leaves Poetry book, keya is used to describe something quite different.

keiko amano said...

I found keyaki which means a Japanese zelkova. It is tree, and tree is ki. Keyaki is one word, but the last syllable, ki, means tree, so this keya is the only keya I can find in the dictionary in addition to the classical term as I mentioned above.

ashok said...

Thanks Keiko - I guess we shall assume it is a tree that fills up with lovely flowers every spring and provides service and comfort to others for the rest of the year :)

ashok said...

I looked up google after my last comment and it is a flowering tree that flowers in spring and provides much shade
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelkova_serrata

keiko amano said...

Thank you for the link, Ashok. I've learned something such as Keyaki is used to make tansu (Japanese cabinets) and taiko (drums). It's popular in Japan, but I was unable to identify it before. Next time I'm in Japan, I will look for it. The link said it looks like elm trees. I love elm.

About the story of your naming your daughter to Keya, are you going to write about it? You probably told her about it, but when you write, your descendants will enjoy reading it perhaps forever. I certainly like to hear about it.

ashok said...

OK will write the story. It is not very long but I do not know if it will interest many and wonder if a blog is the right place for it. Should I add it in the comments here?

keiko amano said...

It's up to you. This comment section is appropriate I think because we've been talking about it.

ashok said...

Will do soon Keiko.

ashok said...

This is the story how my younger daughter was named Keya was named

Her older sister was born about a year a half before her in January 1981. Her name was suggested by my mother as Ketaki and everyone liked that name. It was instantly finalized. Ketaki is an ancient name in Sanskrit of a flower of the Himalayan region. Therefore when it was time to choose the name of her younger sister we looked for the name of another flower beginning with K. In many parts of India they consult astrologers to choose the first letter of the name but our family does not follow that practice. We researched but could not find a suitable flower that begins with K. Then we began looking at other baby names and narrowed down on a few names. Already a few months had passed and finally we decided it was high time to give Keya a name. Until then we called her Choti Moti - the small fat one - At the last minute a colleague of mine from Eastern India mentioned that Keya too is a flower and some persons have that name in eastern India. We immediately liked the name for its sweetness and simplicity. However, because we had already chosen three other names, I came up with the decision that it is best that we leave the final choice to the Universal intelligence.

I devised a method for ascertaining that. I had with me a collection of silver coins from British India from different minting years. We picked up four with different mint years, a name against each mint year. After that we visited a temple in the neighborhood on a Tuesday, the auspicious day for that temple. It was a temple dedicated to the Hindu God Hanuman. After performing the entrance ceremonies we asked Ketaki to choose a coin from the four selected silver coins. The chosen coin had a name corresponding to Keya and therefore Keya was determined as the choice of the Universal intelligence.

ashok said...

So there you have the story now Keiko

Jai Hanuman! means praise the god Hanuman

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

Thank you for the wonderful story! So, Ketaki is some kind of flowers in Sanskrit, and Keya is also a flower, perhaps in east India. Japanese named the golden yellow flower to Yamabuki seems to have a connection in naming flowers.

Because you have written this story, I think your children and grandchildren will enjoy it. Then, later, their children and grandchildren and so on. Pretty soon all the women's name might start by "K" like Ketaki, Keya, K of Vincent's wife, and Keiko! We never know!

ashok said...

My sister too begins with K. Rebb who visits this blog perhaps has another name too that begins with a K

keiko amano said...

RebeKKa!

ashok said...

I have clicked on like on your last few comments Keiko.