Planet of the Masks!

This post is not based on any scientific studies and doesn’t endorse or deny wearing of Masks or any other personal protective equipment… is is again a simple view of the world as I see it!! Enjoy!

Seems like a long time ago, that was me on May 6th, 2020, after 45 days of lockdown and staying at home ventured out to travel to Kansas City from Phoenix. Masks were suggested still not enforced strictly at that time. Little that I know, that this will be my look for rest of 2020.

Remember in April 2020 we couldn’t buy masks as they were in such short supply (Toilet Paper too… haha)? We were told masks are not required and then may be for some and then yes, they reduce spread and now it is mandatory!! I remember buying my first masks from my favorite Jean store Aviator when they offered a cotton pack of 3 with 10 day waiting period. I somehow never felt that comfortable in the surgical masks as they looked flimsy.

Fast forward September 2020, finally started my trip to India after 6 months and now that I seen people wearing masks in various parts of the world, I am starting to realize we are now “the planet of masks!!” Just like in the movie a virus spreads and everyone turns into mask wearing humans! Well, it is impressive that a virus made people wear masks in the majority of the world.. by fear, by law or by education most people seem to cover with something on their face. We all seen different kind of mask wearers…. they come in all colors, shapes and expressions… people wear them properly, half hanging, mouth only, always hanging on the ear, etc., so here are some my most interesting mask wearers:

  • The Mask Nazi, wears everywhere, barely removes to drink or eat and looks at others not wearing as criminals and wants to drive home the point of wearing of masks… we all ran into one I am assuming
  • The reluctant one, doesn’t want to wear it, don’t want people to discriminate, keeps one hanging on year or below chin and based on circumstance or people around pulls it on painfully….
  • The follower, wears one, but not sure why or proper handling… may cover full mouth or not, keeps handling it just like everything else, throws them on every surface, doesn’t wash or change… but hey I am wearing it… what’s your problem??
  • Don’t care, the one that wears may be now and then tells people that they are crazy or has their own excuse of not wearing.. the denier of all theories
  • Not wearing, Doesn’t wear one at all – I just noticed vegetable cutters for the restaurant below my office that all have no masks and when I asked why not, they said you can’t slice onions with a mask.. it gets wet (true I guess) … it goes on and on and on… so who is right?

When I started my trip to India, I packed enough masks with me and was ready to endure 2+ days of living under the mask during the trip.

  • Delta flights till Atlanta – they reminded you often, allowed you to remove when you eat and drink, reminded people to put it back on politely and announced no masks with ventilators all allowed! – ok, good start
  • Delta flight Atlanta to Paris – now I had a flat bed seat, enclosed, not many people in the cabin, crew all wearing masks and gloves… when I slept, I didn’t realized it came off… no pressure… not strict enforcement but reasonable… not that bad huh! – Wait, we have to switch to surgical masks? That’s right… France’s policy requires everyone to wear disposable surgical masks… what? that’s right, no cloth masks or covering… strictly surgical masks – so we were supplied with those, so the 2 1/2 hours transit was all with this surgical mask.. Oh well… oh and by the way the social distancing requirement was 1 meter… that is 3.33 ft. I guess that is good enough there.
  • Before boarding the flight to Delhi, India – we were given a new surgical mask, a disposable face shield – and were told that when we disembark in India, we had to wear both. Some passengers didn’t understand instructions and put them on before boarding… Are they really prepared to wear those for the 8 1/2 hour flight? Geez.
  • Just before landing in India – the crew put on surgical gowns also along with face shields and masks and taking selfies… on a casual chat I was told only India requires these and they wanted to see how they looked in those outfits!
  • Now after landing in India and the experiences are so many, this blog won’t be enough to explain, but when I got out after a lot of confusion, this is the scene outside of international arrivals!

This is not a red cross camp, it is people that are so scared to go out and spending time inside terminal waiting for flights next day… I managed to stay in the lounge and went to board my last flight from Delhi to Hyderabad… this is where shock and awe happened!!!

The Air India flight from Delhi to Hyderabad was on an Airbus 320 with 180+ passenger capacity and there were 180 passenger on it… no empty seats. The pre-boarding area was chaotic, people having to fill manual health declaration forms and some getting face shields and some both shield and surgical disposable gown, I didn’t know what the criteria was. So when I finally boarded I realized I was in the the Planet of MASKS! It was bizarre… it was like being inside of an operation theater… to top of it all here is my flight attendant below!

I started to think… should I even travel? But what the heck, I am almost there. You can never be too careful… so good for them. So we took off, and we were told multiple times to wear masks, don’t getup and use toilets unless absolutely needed, etc. So far so good… THEN………

They distribute food boxes with packaged items to the entire plane… Face Shields off… masks off… people leaning into each other trying to eat the bland and crappy snacks… what happened here? we were all so careful and these 15 minutes of insanity completely destroyed the precautions everyone took to board? I rest my case!!!

In conclusion… Who is right? W.H.O? USA with variety of Masks? French with Surgical masks or the billions of people that are adopting their own methods of face coverings… I am not the one to judge… I don’t have any scientific studies to make any recommendations… I try to take care of myself as much as possible and there is always that chance of infection no matter what.

The impact of this infection is deep, scary at times and you can see in the people’s faces around the world, the stress it has created!!!

Let’s hope it is going to end soon and Stay Safe!!

Covid-19 Terminology for the dummies…

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor (even though I can pretend as one), Scientist, Politician or so called experts on all TV programs.

So, we can’t watch any news program that is not 95% about Covid-19 or go to websites, social media or anything else without hearing about it. After a few weeks of overload I am confused… May be someone can explain the terms better.

Flatten the Curve

Alright, we all need to lock ourselves up to flatten the curve.  Ok, what does flatten the curve mean? I see these nice graphs that show flat lines or even downward curve.  I think it is good news? Confused?

I think flatten the curve is number of new cases reported either less or same as last 5 days. Ok, if we extend stay at home for another 30 days and all curves are flat… what happens then? They will stay flat as soon as we come back out in droves?  In my layman’s understanding it is to stop the spread exponentially and then figure out what to do next.  Because as soon as we OPEN it up without a solid plan the curve ain’t going to stay flat.

So what is the plan to open up? What does let’s open it up mean? That’s coming next.

Rapid and Enhanced Testing

Ok, we have swab testing, quick test, Anti bodies test… all kinds of tests and they did over 4 million tests in US and 400,000+ in India.  I found this handy website that gave testing numbers.  And stay with me here.. I heard false positive tests, false negative tests, defective test kits from China, etc. etc.  So does anyone really think we have this testing thing under control for the entire world population?

The other comment I read was the only way to get back to normal is to test the heck out of everyone and it available everywhere.  Hmmmm… do you think we will have enough test kits for everyone? Also, how many times everyone needs to be tested?

Emirates airlines is testing every passenger before boarding this week (on their limited schedule).  So if this is the new norm, then as soon as someone lands will that country accept his test result? Ok, once they enter the country, their test result is useless unless they are guaranteed to be mixing with 100% tested and clean community…

So again, in my layman’s thinking… testing is a temporary fix and there is no way we will be able to keep up with it… even if we convert a lot of people into “testers”.

Which bring me to my last topic…

Lockdown to be or not to be extended

We have stay at home orders expiring soon, people are anxious to get back to work and life.  India is on 30 days of supposedly strict lockdown (even though between 6 and 9 am it is like open season).  We keep looking at these “studies” that predict lots of casualties to now about 60 K in US by August 3rd… they change these studies regularly.  They are all based on data… no one is a messiah to predict the future.  Heck, the state of Arizona is supposed to “peak” on April 27th whatever that means.  After that we will go down automatically? India is doubling their cases every 4-7 days now after 30 days of lockdown.

So lockdown effective? Stay at home effective? To Mask or not to Mask? If you are as confused as I am, I may feel a little better.  Everything is a guess or experiment.  If we start opening for business and we see the curve going up, what are we going to do? lockdown again and test everyone?

Without a proven cure for Covid-19, I wouldn’t bet on any one projection on when we will be back to business as normal.

To conclude, again in my layman terms… the only option I see is to keep educating people, adopt to the new normal to reduce the spread… most of the people that want to live will be responsible.  Every business need to innovate how they are going to contain the spread.  Sitting at home and waiting for a politician or statistician to tell us what to do.. is not the solution.  Present the actual information about virus, educate and let us be responsible to stay safe.

 

How many more Trillions $ needed to combat Covid-19?

So you see on the news that US Government is doing a lot to give relief to everyone to ride out this Pandemic!!

How is that working out for you?

  • Many people that are let go are going on unemployment… waiting for their benefits
  • Small business owners working on SBA loans and keeping employees in hope of loan coming through… what happens if their loan runs out and no new business in 3 months?
  • Vendors are the first ones cut out – so freelancers and non-essential vendors are hurting
  • Freelancers and vendors don’t have any guidance for loans or any unemployment benefits so they can’t even apply for anything
  • Oh and if you made $100 K or more last year don’t worry about getting any check from government either… you must have a lot of reserves.
  • Did the credit card companies or any others you owe money to stopped sending reminder emails or call you about your late payments?  They have more time to follow up more than ever…

Not sure how many are in a position of not receiving any help, but it is tough to ride this out… for another month? Two Months?

While congress is working on 4th, 5th and 6th bill… for relief, I am thinking this is not going to be sustainable.  How many more months you will do this? Is there any realistic expectation of when all businesses will open and be normal?  2, 3 or 6 months?  By that time people are sitting at home either surviving on one of these benefits or absolutely wiped out of all resources and desperate.

I am neither against or for these efforts but without a clear plan possible for future (based on current information), these are all just temporary fixes… the only thing that can change the situation is a cure or vaccine.  May be a Trillion $ should be put into that effort by the world.

My View on recent Elections in India…

My views are limited by the information I see during my stays in India.  As I cannot vote in India I don’t have the privilege to influence its outcome or be a part of it, but it does effect the life of everyone I car about…

First of all about Parliament elections…

Congratulations to Modi for returning to power… no one person can make an effective change in policy of any kind and he needs sometime before the progress shows.  India is still a country that is only 72 years young after independence…. after 200+ years of British Raj, how can you expect it to be on right path in such a short term.  We still follow British political system it instilled on us.  I seen more bold moves to get India to be on right path than the years before… and Modi is also a beneficiary of the changing dynamic of the entire thinking of the country… Hope the next 5 years puts India in the fast track to being a formidable force in the world.

Now coming to politics of my home state Andhra Pradesh… I am not sure what to say… since the separation of Andhra Pradesh into 2 states, things haven’t been the same.  The ruling party the last few years was so wishy-washy… there is no chance for them to return to power.  YS Jagan, the new to be CM fought hard to get into power.. is he the right person to get AP to its glory? Only time will tell.  You have to respect the will of the people and can’t criticize your leaders and undercut any progress they may be able to make… but I am skeptical on the impact ANY government can have on this fractured state of AP, since its separation from Telangana.

The most disappointing outcome of the elections is about my home town of Rajahmundry.  The two Members of Legislative party are going to be from TDP not from the YSRCP the party that is getting into power. In this huge wave of change in AP, how come we have two people one a veteran member and a new comer won the seats.  Rajahmundry got the least amount of attention after the separation and now for the next 5 years the two representatives will be in the ineffective opposition side and it will only make things worse.  I really hoped to see Mr. Rowthu Surya Prakasa Rao garu to be the next MLA and a minister in the government and help move Rajahmundry forward.

India is the largest democracy in the world… big respect to that… but it still needs to evolve and reform its political system to compete with rest of the world rather than continuing embrace the “colonial” and “imperial” political system that British left us with… that is just my humble opinion.

 

It is just a straw!!!!

A Plastic Straw that is!!

You probably seen a lot of news about major companies promising to cut down on using Plastic Straws including Starbucks and a few airlines.  Man, it is just a straw, with all the single use plastic being used daily all over, why are we after the straw? Will it even make an impact on environment??

My guess is it does!! Well, it is not the straw, but the concept of being aware of single usage plastic in your every day life is what the result should be.

Reduction of Single Use Plastic

Back in June we did a small event in my hometown of Rajahmundry, India under our non-profit Enrich Future.  It was an eye-opening experience, the lack of awareness of how plastic doesn’t degrade and it is clogging up water resources.  Ever since we have been trying to distribute bags, make people aware of plastic by publishing news and articles on the Facebook page.

Around the same time, there has been a lot of similar activity around the world and there are a lot of new plastic ban laws are springing up in India and also all over the world.

I am not one of those that will try to preach to everyone about Plastic, so I am making a humble attempt to make people aware of their plastic use.

Plastic is a great material, it is a scientific marvel and unfortunately it is so good, it doesn’t disintegrate and every plastic item manufactured is still on earth somewhere or in some shape.  Everyday we use a lot of “single use” plastic without even noticing it… like the morning news paper in a Plastic bag, the coffee cup at Starbucks with plastic coating, the straw in your drink, the water bottles, the utensils in a lot of fast food places and wrappers on everything you buy.

So, just try to reduce one item at a time, starting with the “Straw” 🙂

My view on racism!!

Warning!! – This post may have language or views that are not suitable to over sensitive and extreme politically correct people!!

rac·ist definition

noun
a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.

When I was leaving for US back in 1990, I heard a lot of advice from people about how I should adopt to life in US.  Some said – try to stay with Indian people (I guess strength), some said try to stay away from black people (I guess that is what they knew from stories and movies), don’t make the white people mad (that was funny one).  I arrived here without a clue about racism… in India there is mostly one race.  But the basic definition of racism is “discrimination” and “prejudice” – that I am very familiar with.

EVERYONE discriminates… in some shape or form… no denying it.  It is human behavior.  We discriminate based on race, caste, color, gender, sexual preference, weight, height, money and of course religion.  If you never made a joke or said something discriminating in any of those areas, you are a saint and I bow to you.  I have seen a lot of discrimination in caste, color and money growing up.  I even heard that who we are was based on our sins or good deeds in previous lives.

Fast forward 28 years… I now stand in a much different place.  I have seen my fair share of discrimination and still do now and then… I just chose to not be impacted by it any more.  Here are some funny (albeit not so funny when they happened) incidents.

  • When I was preparing for our software presentation in 1998 at a big company, one of the attendees came up to me and spoke loudly “so what are we going to see today?” – I guess talking loud and slowly really make a difference for people that don’t speak english well 🙂
  • In 1997, when I was looking to buy a new truck, I was at a gas station and asked a guy that pulled up in a new F-150, how much it cost… he looked at me and said “it is very expensive”… I guess I didn’t look like I can afford such a truck.
  • When I was browsing new shirts in a big department store in Scottsdale, a sales lady approached me and said “those shirts are not on clearance”… wow! that one stung.
  • and of course the classic one, when a flight attendant said “hey, are you sure this guy is in business class?” on a flight from Bombay to Zurich in 1997 right in front of me, I was speechless (read about it in my post My most memorable travel story!)

In many of these incidents, you become numb and usually can’t respond immediately.  Are they really discriminating? Racist? or just don’t have enough exposure to realize that stereotyping based on color or ethnicity is not right?

In early 90s I used to hang out with mostly Indian students, relatives and didn’t get exposed to much about other races in US.  When I got married in 1995 to a white girl, I heard many comments – married to get Visa, married to show off, married for money (really? :)) – but after that milestone my opinion about race changed significantly.  There are bigots and people that discriminate in every race… just because of those handful, everyone gets labeled as the same.  Is every white person a KKK member? or is every hispanic is here illegally? But you can’t escape the rhetoric that some people use in general.  Racism and discrimination haven’t started recently, they has been there forever and just recently it has been brought to forefront.  Now, you see people that hate discrimination so much they themselves discriminate against whole race and group of people.

Recently I heard a comment at a hotel bar from a young white girl that she hates rich people.  I asked her what is her definition of rich… and she said those people that drink fancy scotch, buy their kids expensive things and stay in nice places.  Her boyfriend also had sympathy for me that how hard life must be for me for being brown in this culture. So I had to talk to them about my life experiences and how being brown doesn’t bother me and also how all rich people are not bad… some work really hard to get there.  That is what prompted me to write this post.

When did you see a problem fixed “it self” if you yelled right in its face?  Calling people racists or showing that they are WRONG is not the way to fix it.  I had the privilege of reading a lot of posts from Sadhguru recently.  We will not be able to fix Terrorism, Racism and Bigotry in our life time!! But we can start making a difference.  The only way is to start making people realize what they are beliefs are not right and make them aware of life in general one at a time.  So take time to educate one person at a time and don’t waste time in calling people out and feeling good about yourself by doing so.

For me, there is only one race and that race is HUMAN RACE!

New Year Resolutions? What’s in store for 2018?

What are New Year resolutions are good for? Absolutely nothing 🙂 . They are meant to be broken… So I didn’t make any.

We are already more than half a month into 2018 and I am sure a lot of people struggling to keep up with their resolutions.  2017 was a very hectic and life changing year for me.  This was the year, I lost my mother, learned how to deal with death and grief and reconnected to a few fundamental aspects of life.  2017 also was the year I travelled most in my life… 8+ trips to India and over 220,000 miles logged.

For me new year resolutions sounded like a fix to something that wasn’t working.  So I started looking at what wasn’t working and the root cause for it.  The root cause to all of my issues was the same thing… “finishing it”.  I always had a lot of balls in the air, had grand plans and ideas, but not able to get many off the ground or finish line.  So the recurring theme of 2018 is FINISH IT!!!

I wanted to always contribute part of my time to a “Cause” – finally in December 2017 we launched Enrich Future, an organization focused on creating better resources for the future.  Please visit www.enrichfuture.in.

As my friend, colleague and life coach Janett Chambers said, don’t aim for something you know you can achieve… that is playing it safe…. So this year, the goals are bigger and harder.  New office building, growing projects to revenue, over 200 employees, and let’s see where 2018 takes me.

So I request/beg you to call me out on my lack of followup on anything and put me back on track to fulfill my resolution (kind of) of “finishing it”!!!

Once in a lifetime experience… Varanasi – Post 1

Several posts to come about my recent trip to Varanasi (also known as Benaras, Kasi), which is a Hindu holy city on the banks of river Ganges.

Varanasi is a holy city in India with deep roots to the Hindu religion and home to god Lord Kasi Viswanth.  I heard a lot stories about the city  all my life (my father graduated from Benaras Hindu University 55 years ago) and finally had to visit the place to immerse the ashes of my mother who passed away couple of months ago.  I have to say words can’t describe what you see in places like this… you have to visit it to believe it.  I can’t post all my experiences in one blog so I started sharing some of my photos on my Facebook and instagram feeds.

I feel so insignificant in the history of “time” as this city has been through so much of history that what I experienced is a sliver of its existence.  I am not here to criticize or suggest anything to be changed… I am just a witness to life as it happens.

In this post I want to cover 2 Ghats (Ghat: Places on River bank where people bathe or access river) of the 80+  that exists in Varanasi.  First thing I learned was that the name Varanasi comes from two words — Varun, the river on the south end of town and Assi Ghat (80th Ghat) on the north end of the town… so Varun + Assi = Varanasi over time.. small nugget of knowledge…

The 2 Ghats are Harishchandra Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat.  (Complete list of Ghats)

Both these ghats are famous for cremation of bodes on the banks of River Ganges, the holiest river for Hindu religion. It is the ultimate way of leaving behind your physical existence in the world.

SONY DSC

This picture is taken from a boat a few hundred feet from the ghat.  Those burning fires are of dead bodies and people sitting on steps watching as it happens.  There are always a few burning fires on this ghat.

SONY DSC

This is a blurry view of Manikarnika Ghat the south most Ghat of Varanasi.  This image is blurry.. for a reason.  My guide on the boat said it is bad luck to take pictures up close… so I can only take one while we are pulling away…  This Ghat has multiple places to burn bodies and it is rumored that they go through 500-600 bodies a day at this place.  Myth has it that this place was supposed to have a light all hours of the day by god’s order and it DOES happen.  It is a surreal scene to see it in the person.  You can read all you want, but it is one of those real life experiences you have to have in person.

So why did I choose to showcase 2 ghats that deal with burning of bodies? First, after experiencing my mother’s death up close I realized how insignificant our trivial pursuits when it all ends.  Death is not a bad thing… it is closure of a life cycle… a blessed one for most and you should embrace and celebrate every moment of your living existence.  We are all born from the earth and when we die it all goes back to earth… simple isn’t it?

If anyone wants to experience this in person, I will do whatever I can to make it happen…  as a paid consultant of course 🙂

Celebrating a life….

MomPassport

Chavali Satyavathi Kameswari
Age: 71
Passed Away on August 26th @ 12:20 p.m. IST

Celebrating the life of my mother, who passed away on August 26th, 2017 @ 12:20 p.m. peacefully.  I won’t be who I am if not for her influencer, care and concern.  As I prepare for life without her presence, I would like to celebrate her life over next few days with near and dear.

Please say a prayer in her name and thank you all for your support during this tough period.

— Prasad Chavali

 

 

2 1/2 years… where did it go?

As you can see, I had a blog post on December 1st, 2014 and then literally disappeared… what happened? #WHEREISPRASAD – well that is the story of my life.

#WHEREISPRASAD on Facebook

#WHEREISPRASAD on Instagram

and of course #WHEREISPRASAD on twitter

Obviously nobody missed me enough to twist my hand… literally. If there is one thing I miss is the creativity required to do the writing. Hope I can get back to it at least once a month.

Where I am at?

At a very happy point in my career knowing what it takes to build a company from scratch and use the experience to provide productive enterprise solutions and provide employment to those who believe in me.

What I need?

Motivation from the friends and well wishers that believe in me enough to make me keep writing and still follow my passion…

So in short….

I WILL BE BACK!!!