Virtual Reality Goggles and how they make people even lonelier – 1 Mar 16

Have you seen those goggle-like high-tech devices lately which you can put over your head, attach your smartphone to and then enter a virtual reality with which you reach completely different dimensions of watching movies or playing games! You see things in 3D, you are all of a sudden in the middle of it, a part of it, as though it was you in real life within the movie or game! Sounds great – until you get the thought that this could actually make life even lonelier than it already is!

A few weeks ago, Ramona, Apra and I were in Gurgaon, I believe it was when we brought Monika to the hospital, and needed to buy something. We went into one of the many malls there and walked by a stall of Samsung, I believe it was, where these things were presented to the public and promoted heavily. A lady with a microphone approached people and told them they would get a voucher for a coffee shop in the mall if they managed to survive in a game called ‘Temple Run’ or something similar for more than 30 seconds.

Well, I was curious of the technology and my wife has a competitive gene in her which made her want to win the voucher. So we tried it – and it looked really hilarious! It’s a pity I don’t have a picture of me trying that thing on… but as expected, Ramona had fun with the game and won her voucher.

When we got piece of cake for Apra at the coffee shop afterwards, we sat together and talked not only about how it had made us feel a little bit dizzy to suddenly be in the middle of that game, not seeing your surrounding anymore, but also about the effects this may have on future relationships! Or is that only a thing for singles? Aren’t we going to isolate ourselves even further by this technology?

Turn it as you wish, this device practically removes you from your surrounding and places you into your own world. You can already notice this happening with smartphones anyway: instead of interacting with the physical people around you, everyone stares at their screens, often only passively taking part in other people’s online lives! Now place those goggles onto everyone’s faces and they won’t even be disturbed by you waving a hand in front of their faces!

Of course, your phone can show you the world in this way and you can dive into colours and never-seen places – but if you do this too often, you miss the colours, brightness and joys of a real world!

And it will definitely not help your relationship if the two of you sit next to each other on the sofa in the evening with your goggles on, in two different worlds.

How Mobiles take the Fun out of Real Life – 27 Jan 16

I yesterday told you how I didn’t approve of a stranger offering my child his phone. The mobile phone however seems to have become such a normal item in society, an ever-present gadget in everyone’s hand at all times that it doesn’t even seem to disturb a lot of people anymore!

That is something which I had mentioned in a blog entry not too long ago and I noticed it again on our short trip to Delhi. Mobiles everywhere, while people are sitting together in a conversation, when people are waiting anywhere and even while they are walking.

The most disturbing of these events was again during breakfast in the hotel. We had our table next to two young Indian men. They were eating in silence until one pulled out his mobile. Not that they started talking with each other then – no, but it was the end to the silence: he started watching a video! And it was loud enough for us, two meters away, to hear the music and conversations as well! He laughed at some stupid jokes and practically had his phone entertain him during breakfast while his friend was sitting opposite him, not able to see the screen, obviously not involved in this fun!

How come you can ignore the one sitting in front of you and prefer watching a video on your own? When has that become acceptable in society, why did the man who was with him not object?

We were just about to leave anyway, so I didn’t say anything anymore but had that noise started at the beginning of my meal, I would have asked him to turn it down, as we were all sitting in that room and not only him alone! There are earphones for this kind of situation, too – but I have heard that still today one finds inconsiderate people in public transport who play loud music as well!

Now listen closely: apart from the fact that you should take care to keep any of your entertainment to yourself and not annoy your surroundings, please realize that there is real life around you! Put away your mobile, take the eyes off the screen and look at what is happening outside! See the beauty of nature, talk to real people, listen to the music of birds, a child’s laugh or just the busy hustle of those around you! Don’t isolate yourself by putting all your attention onto your mobile, be that a movie, a chat or photos!

Please, be real. Live a real life in this real world!

Offering the Mobile Phone – A new Way of bribing Children – 26 Jan 16

We are back in Vrindavan now and although our trip to Delhi – or rather Gurgaon – was not actually successful and didn’t serve its purpose, we of course have collected a few more impressions. Many of these have something to do with Apra, with whom it is always fun to go out, no matter where. People of course also react to her, not only she to them – and this time I found one way of approaching her strange: a man offered her to play with his mobile phone!

We were having breakfast at the hotel, something which Apra always enjoys to the fullest. She was picking something from my plate, then from Ramona’s, in between ate from her own. While we were enjoying thus filling our bellies with fruit, toast and more, the hotel’s restaurant manager approached our table to ask whether everything was alright. Ramona and I answered that we were enjoying our meal very much.

Apra waved when he did but when he asked what her name was, she was too shy or maybe too busy to reply. He asked her how she was and when she didn’t give a reply either, he asked her: ‘Do you want to have my mobile?’

Ramona and I both knew that this would not have the desired effect on Apra. We don’t give her video games to play, she has some educational games on our iPad and just in general, she is not completely crazy about phones. As expected, Apra shook her head and continued eating which finally prompted the man to move on.

Ramona and I looked at each other and knew we were thinking the same thing: is this a new thing to make children like you? Offering them your phone?

If it is so, I think it is a sad development of our society! A video game for bribing a child? Anyway, aren’t we trying to teach children to be friendly and nice to everyone, not only those who give us something? And do you really think if the child takes your phone to play with, he or she would have any kind of reason to then talk to you? The kid will get totally absorbed in the phone, not in a conversation with you.

As a parent, I especially wonder what you would actually suggest my daughter should do on your phone. What kind of games do you want her to play – and what if I didn’t approve of that? Another thought, this one a bit funny – would you like her going through your picture gallery? Or would you not actually give her the phone at all, just offering it for teasing?

We are teaching Apra to politely reply questions for her name and wellbeing. While she may not actually follow these manners yet all the time, I would prefer you not trying to bribe her. Some normal interaction would be much better and, in my opinion, much more effective!

Computers make your Life easier – if they work properly! – 20 Jan 16

Ramona has been fighting with her computer lately and now it finally seems as though she has won the fight – which is why I would like to tell you about her victory today!

It all started with the purchase of a software that would facilitate the sending of donation receipts at our German charity organization. By the end of the year, when she installed it to make the entries, her computer also updated its software to the new office version.

When working on the software, she realized that things were not really working the way they should. She got errors and was unable to proceed which is why she asked the software developer for help. Via remote control of her computer, he was able to install some more softwares or files which made the whole thing work again. Ramona was happy: now she could finally finish all her work!

The next morning, the drama began: her outlook, the email sending program she normally uses, did not work anymore! Over the next four days she spent hours on the phone with customer support of Microsoft! Her father sat beside her, watching with her how the technical people once more took control of her computer and tried in every way to get her emails to work again!

Finally, in the evening before Apra’s birthday at half past nine, the end of the tunnel was in sight: outlook was working again and she could access her emails!

Somehow, in all of this, nobody had yet found the connection of the software, which was supposed to work with the previous version of office and not with this one! Can you imagine what happened the moment Ramona opened the software again and started using it? Correct: Outlook broke down again!

At this point however, Ramona knew what had happened and could, with a few attempts, fix her emails once more. But what to do with the software? Let’s ask the software developer once more!

To make it short, over the course of the past ten days, Ramona tried to run the software on four different computers, always finding that one or the other setting was not right – or the computer simply too old to work it. And finally, finally, the man who had written that software and had invested hours of his time, too, managed to make all settings for this thing to work!

Oh wow, the wonders of modern technic! Sometimes you love them and they make your life easy. Sometimes, it would have been so much easier without! But no, in the end, this will incredibly reduce manual work – so it was worth the effort!

Please don’t ignore a real Person in Favour of a Screen – 17 Dec 15

आभासी पर्दे के लिए वास्तविक इंसान को अनदेखा न करें

While I have been writing about social media the last days and expressed yesterday that I really do like it as well, I will today tell you about one thing I really don’t like but which is not specific to social media but mobiles, tablets and the like: I don’t like having a conversation with someone whose attention is on an electronic device in his hand!

I understand how incredibly practical modern technical instruments have made it to communicate with people thousands of kilometers away. It is great that you can message someone and get a reply the next second. It is also nice that these little gadgets have become devices of entertainment for hours. But, in the spirit of yesterday’s blog post, real life is better! Real life is more important! Please don’t ignore a real person sitting in front of you in favour of the screen in your hand!

The problem is that the makers of these gadgets and all the software and apps which goes onto them want to achieve exactly this: they want to engage you so much that you cannot do anything else but stare at the screen. You are supposed to feel an inner urge not to put that thing aside. If this is the case, they won. You will buy what they sell you and you will lose a part of your real life because you involve your mind into their inventions rather than looking at the people around you.

It has long ago been in discussion that video games create an addiction for children. Wait, not only for children, also for adults! I have always been in favour of keeping children away from video games so that they don’t get addicted – something which would impact their whole adult life as well!

Nowadays however, it is normal that already young teenagers get a mobile. It is a smartphone, so that they can also use their social networks. On a smartphone, they automatically have access to an insane number of apps, so that they can play games the whole day long without anybody saying anything about it! Gaming, messaging, sharing pictures, taking pictures and more – the whole day long.

Apart from the negative effect on health – just think of posture, eyesight, lack of movement – there is this big problem of losing the connection to reality. This is what is the case when you sit in front of a person and don’t ever look into this person’s eyes because at the same time you are checking your messages, answering or, even worse, playing a game.

Get back to Reality, be real, live a real life and be in contact with others!

Realize that your real Life is more important than your online World – 4 Mar 15

There are a lot of people nowadays who spend a very big amount of time of their day on their phones or tablets, not working but communicating through social media. I don't think it is bad. I don't say you shouldn't do it. I do say however that you need to be careful not to think everything you read online is reality.

I have seen this happen with many people, especially with those who have a tendency to feeling inferior to others. They read all those great status updates, tweets and statements of others and then feel bad about their own lives.

Maybe some time ago, this happened when people looked at magazines and read interviews with celebrities who seemed to have so great lives, from a perfect body to the loving partner and of course success and money. It was a shock for everyone when such persons then committed suicide – nobody had noticed that their life was actually miserable and not glamorous at all, as it was displayed in the media.

Then they looked at their real friends however and could see that they are not the only real people with problems, issues and different moods.

Today, when looking at a lot social media posts, you wonder whether the authors of those texts are always-happy, super-perfect ideals or actually real human beings. And that's where I think the danger lies.

For those who like comparing themselves to others, the result can easily be to feel bad. Now these others are not anymore celebrities whom they have never seen but their real friends and acquaintances! Now it seems like everyone around them is really living in a wonderful heaven-like world, experiencing so many fun things and getting so much love from everyone – just they are not.

I would like to recommend everyone who has such feelings to take the eyes off the screen for some time and actually meet the people whose lives they follow online. Get in touch with real life again and see that you can write anything while not writing what really moves you. Obviously, many people would like to share their good moments online while going through bad times on their own! They don't want pity or words of compassion in a fictional world when what they really need is a shoulder to cry on!

This world online is great, you can be in touch with people all around the world and see what they are doing – but don't forget to live a real life, too, meet people in flesh, too, and be yourself, a human being with emotions of all kinds!

Do you really prefer a fictional World to real Life? – 18 Sep 14

Yesterday I started a list of reasons why I believe TV is one of the worst ways of passing your time that you can imagine. Today I would like to complete this list of reasons why you shouldn’t watch TV:

4. You are bombarded with Advertisement – and cannot fight against its Effect!

There are a whole lot of commercial breaks in a regular TV movie or TV show. You won’t get to see a complete half an hour of entertainment, news or other information: a few ad spots are definitely going to reach you and, depending on how well they are made, reach their goals as well! You just need to see the same thing often enough to know a brand for a product and trust it. Simply because you have heard of it so often. In the same way, commercials give you a subconscious message that you really need whatever they are showing. That can be electronic devices, food items or insurances, pretty much anything!

Fact is that it is effective. It is a very soft and subtle way of brainwashing that you submit yourself to! You don’t want this? Switch off that TV!

5. You get sucked into a fictional Illusion which makes you unhappy in real Life!

Last but definitely not least is this point. I cannot stress this enough because it is something you often don’t even realize anymore, especially if you watch a lot of TV: those movies and shows absorb you. It is just fiction but it is so well played and directed that you identify with the main characters and you take all their emotions on you! You suffer with them and you are happy with them! What is the problem with that?

You slowly lose your connection to real life. Seems exaggerated to you? It is not! It is a slow process that pulls you into this fictional world. You start thinking and imagining as if that world really existed. You compare your life to what you see on the screen – and you will never ever feel that your life is better!

It is obvious that your real life cannot be as exciting, fantastic and full of events as TV and movie life is! They cram a whole life’s story in two hours and you are left with the feeling that you are missing something! Soap operas live from the fact that every week someone either dies, gets married, cheated on, has an accident and is saved or finds the love of his life! If it was too close to real life, it would be boring and nobody would watch it – because why would you watch a normal person just like you? Even shows like ‘Big Brother’ choose participants who are a bit different than the normal, regular person, just to make it more interesting!

What we have as a result of today’s TV habits is a whole lot of people who have unrealistic expectations on life and are bitterly disappointed in the consequence!

Get away from your screen, take your kids out in nature, enjoy real life and start living again!

Your Time is too important to spend it on mindless TV Shows – 17 Sep 14

We are about to start for our flight back to India after this intense and beautiful week in Germany. Unfortunately Apra has caught a cold and is coughing and sneezing with a little fever as well. Nevertheless we are confident that we will make it to India smoothly. Last time, she was asleep nearly the whole flight long – and me with her. In the meantime, Ramona considered using the TV on the flight but finally didn’t feel like it. When I woke up, we talked a bit about TVs, how much of a habit it can become and why I normally see it as a rather bad thing. Now here is my list of five reasons why you should not watch TV:

1. Watching TV wastes a lot of your time!

It is just logical: you could use the time that you sit in front of that machine for so many other things: work, clean, tidy up or – if you actually sit there because you had enough of all these activities – get social with friends, be creative, paint, play, take a bath or spoil yourself in any other way. Sitting in front of the TV doesn’t bring you anything. It just makes time go by. Two or three hours is nothing, once you get involved mentally with what you are watching! If you really have too much time, go for it. If not, just keep that thing off!

2. You could use it for learning something – but you don’t!

Let’s be honest about this one: yes, TV is a great thing to see the world. You have the possibility to watch documentaries, to get to know more about this world. You can watch programs to get an insight in other cultures, follow debates on important topics or find out how the things work that you use every day. You could but usually, maybe in 90% of all cases, you don’t.

You use the TV for mindless entertainment. That’s it. So don’t tell me, when you are watching the latest soap opera or a reality TV show, that you are broadening your horizon! You just want to let television wash over you without any challenge for your brain!

3. It can make you aggressive, and your kids even more!

This point is nothing new and I know many people don’t believe in it. I do however, especially when it is about your kids! You show them that you watch TV, they do it, too. And today’s shows, even those made for children, are nearly always so full of violence that I would never want my girl to watch it! They believe what they see is how it should be, that people are hitting each other, fighting and just being full of violence! Combined with the lack of movement and exercise which is a normal consequence of too much TV, this stirs the same aggressive behavior in children – and in yourself!

I have some more ideas – but more about that tomorrow! – share the Memories of your Friendships – 28 Oct 13

I have made the experience of being popular. I have seen the glitter and glamour that comes with it. There were masses in front of me, all eager to get close. It is exciting, it is full of life, it is great – but I have learned one thing: you cannot be close with the masses. While celebrities get cheered at and wave to big crowds during the day, they need someone in the evening, a shoulder to lean their tired heads on. Someone to laugh and cry with, to share real emotions. A friend.

Those who have needed the help of a friend when they were down, know how valuable it is to have this person in life! You need to look after your relation with these friends – and that’s exactly for what we have created a new website:!

It is a new kind of social media page, one for individual connections instead for a huge amount of people whom you have maybe met once or not even that. On facebook a lot of people look for new connections, for new friends and maybe even for business. A lot of users are overwhelmed with the many new friend requests by people whom they don’t even know. On Friendshiplog, you connect with your real friends, with those whom you know, whom you love and with whom you have already shared memories!

You can write down these memories to keep a record, a log of your friendship – and in several languages! In the footer of the page you can select English, Hindi, German, Spanish or French. Remind your friend of the good times you had together or thank him or her for the support you got. Your friend will be happy to hear of you and will love to read of those cherished memories. Give your friend a virtual hug by writing your experience in a story.

You don’t need a lot of time for one story – there is no need to put your complete friendship into words from the day you got to know each other until today! Simply take one incident, one funny day, one interesting talk, one sad moment when you got your friend’s help and share it with him or her. Can you imagine the joy when your friend gets to read it and remembers that moment as well?

Others who read your stories get inspiration for their own friendships, can laugh about a joke or feel with you if your friendship is a moving story. In today’s world, where we have a huge amount of negative news on TV, in newspapers and on the internet, this page will be an oasis of positive stories where people can go and read about their own and other people’s friendships whenever they feel sad, down or depressed by all the bad happening in this world. Restore your faith in humanity by reading about the great bonds that people share.

So come and join us with stories of your friendships!

You can also like on Facebook!

Website down, Mails bouncing back – what had happened to – 1 Nov 12

You cannot imagine how happy I was yesterday and am today to see our website working. How happy I am that you are able to read these lines! Our website is back up. If you are a regular reader, I know you were missing reading my blog with your morning coffee or at your daily computer-session. And I can tell you, I was missing it very much, too! Let me tell you about our technical disaster that started one week ago.

We were attacked. Not physically but virtually. Not our body took harm but our website did! Actually, it was our server that the attacker hacked into and where he placed a script that started sending out spam mails. We were notified and immediately informed our server administrators who shut down the possibility of spam being sent – obviously something had broken the security measures which were previously in place to prevent such a thing!

What followed in order to make sure our server is secure of further attacks was like a nightmare. The server administrators took off our server. It had to be done, it was a question of security. At first we thought it would take hours only – those hours stretched into days and all we could think of was what people would say if they tried to open the website during that time! There would just be an error – Website not found! Whoever would send an email would get his mail right back into his inbox – bounced. People who had booked retreats and wanted to come to the Ashram would panic – how would they reach us now?

I don’t know if you can imagine the extent of this downtime for us. You can compare it to losing your mobile phone with all your numbers on it and all you have left is an unplugged landline phone with dial plate.

It is a very strange feeling to sit in front of the computer in such a situation, waiting for a message by the server administrators, hoping they would say it was done or at least that they were about to finish. We usually spend quite some time working at the computer and in the past days we spent even more time – but had the feeling that we achieved nothing at all! It is frustrating when there is nothing you can do – either because you don’t have enough technical knowledge to do or because there is no way you can change anything!

We wrote to the server administrators who were watching codes scanning and restoring our files, we talked to them on phone, we used normal webmail to send short notifications to those people whom we expected to write to us and we called our developer, asking for any possibility to get our website back up. When we had just come up with an alternative and temporary solution – another server onto which we would upload our backup – the server administrators finally told us that they had found a way to do it more quickly.

And slowly, bit by bit, our website came back up. There was some text, now the colours, refreshing again brought the photos up and finally it was back in its full shape. Wow, was that relieving! We still had lots to do, mails had to be sent again, the missed diary entries had to be put up and we had to ensure that the server was actually secure now. But whatever we were doing from that moment on felt just easy. It was a joy sitting in front of the screen again, seeing our website and reading mails again.

Yes, now we know that we have to work on a backup plan so that this story will never repeat itself. We are sorry if we missed your mail. Please resend it, we would love to read from you. And most of all thank you for having checked our website whether it is up again. Here we are, again connected with the world.