Death – the ultimate reality…

Death is the ultimate reality. The most irreversible fact of life. People who jocularly compared death and taxes as being the two ultimate realities, did not know what they were talking about. There can be no jokes about death – of a near and dear person. The stopped heart cannot be re-charged or jump-started or repaired or brought back to life. And then, the usual question – what could we have done differently ?

Take life very seriously…am not talking about living, but about life itself. Need to keep it safe. Be careful. One lazy crossing of the road can finish it. Take risks only after being sure that things look more-than-reasonably safe. Tick all boxes while embarking on any expedition that entails risk to life. Almost like a military operation – one less tick one day and the error could be fatal. Be serious…almost be paranoid.

Prevent rather than cure…go for comprehensive health checks once in 2 years before 35 yrs, once a year till 50 and twice a year after that. Once in a while, get major diseases / organs checked out – the ones which are not included in even comprehensive health checks – HIV, gall bladder stone, appendix, fatty liver, cancer. Heart, lungs, blood cells, BP, diabetes should be hopefully covered in normal tests.

Prevent…please, please exercise…On exercise, plan unambitious targets…have to do that for 3-5 times a week…for a month…then for the year…then for the next few years…then for 30 years. Do whatever you like – treadmill, walk, jog, yoga, sports. Don’t have time ? Skip a promotion, be satisfied with a 10% annual hike, drive a smaller car. Make lesser profits. Ask the driver to get the car home after you get down 2 kms from home. Keep change of shoes in office. Ignore style, fashion, “what will colleagues say ?” – be a nerd while pursuing health targets.

Prevent…eat well. Party sometimes, binge out rarely, but correct the cycle within the week. Cut down on artificial juices, aerated drinks, sweets, alcohol, smoking – from tomorrow. Resist the unnecessary snack between meals. Multiple small meals does not mean unhealthy farsaan every two hours. While eating meat or Indian vegetarian curries, don’t have to eat two-three bowls. Stop consciously after one. Do finish the bowl of salad. Drink more water.

Sign up for adventure trips and adventure sports after checking quality of people managing them, and after checking quality of equipment – the strength of the rope, the quality of the buckle on the life-jacket – walk out if not satisfied – do not worry about money paid already – it will come back…as a general rule, avoid such expeditions in developing countries.

Drive well, be consistent, no sudden movements. Be on the lookout for the…Idiot, or the kid emerging from the divider and crossing the road. If sitting behind, wear seat belts – remember Princess Diana ?

Coming to the “cure” part…now you have got some disease…screwed ? Not really…two opinions on everything more serious than a malaria, three opinions on major diseases. Glib doctors, young doctors may not always be good doctors. Still, ask questions of your doctors – why did this happen ? what are the various options ? what are the risks in the option suggested ? Write down yourself the case history in English…check with 2 more doctors / hospitals. Call your doctor friend or family member, show her all 3 opinions, decide on the most sensible one. Find the option suggested. Go for it, whole hog.

On finances, keep a “Handover kit” ready for yourself after you are married. This kit should be a document describing steps to be followed by your spouse / children after your death – to claim insurance, or to live life – move investments into fixed deposits of 3 banks, sell one of the cars, move from bigger apartment to smaller one. Mention all policy numbers, bank account numbers, fixed deposit numbers in the kit. Give a copy to the spouse – cannot NOT have this discussion – cannot be brushed under the carpet or for later. Just to be safe, please also send a copy of this kit to a close relative – parents or siblings – they will give to your spouse later on. Planning for this obviously is a longer topic. Find amount required for family to live properly after you are gone. If you have that amount, congratulations, describe in the Handover Kit where all this amount is invested in and whether these should be moved to lesser risky options. If you don’t have that amount, please buy life insurance tomorrow for that amount.

Get adequate family health insurance. Rs 6-8 lacs p.a. in today’s world – trust me, this may get consumed in any one major disease for one family member.

Taking care of kids – In this part, there is no such thing as “being over-protective”. Right from letting them cross roads on their own to going for day-picnics in schools to night-overs – all of these have varying forms of risk. You have a right to ask lots of questions to schools, fellow parents – go ahead, do not be shy. Take tough decisions – of course, do not make the kid a nerd or an outcaste – but be smart, take right precautions and most importantly, explain to the kid on potential dangers and actions to be taken.

Live life well…spend time with loved ones – don’t waste time on TV and other mindless pursuits like e-chatting with colleagues after returning from office. Visit Linkedin, Facebook once a week only. Say “I love you” to partners, children and parents. Or if you can’t, then listen to them, to their stories…genuinely – that’s enough. Do things together, go for family holidays – with kids and with elders. Cannot have “didn’t spend enough time…”later on.
Live life well…write your book, visit Turkey or Petra in Jordan or Machu Pichu or Kashmir. See/meet Dalai Lama, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Pandit Ravi Shankar. Buy the 350 CC bike…or the 2-seater car…go for the bungee jump (see do’s and don’ts for adventure sports in earlier part of this article).

Live life well, but take life very seriously…Zero tolerance with death please…in preventing, and in cure. If you wanted to implement a 6-sigma process someday, this is the process to work upon. It may literally be a life-saving effort !

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