Sunday, May 30, 2010

Welcome to the cruel world

The maid who comes to our house is aged about 40 and has many daughters and sons and umpteen grandchildren, thanks to a series of child marriages (a phenomenon still ever-so-existing in the below-poverty Indian populace). While sipping coffee after her daily chores, she usually narrates a tale of her life or my mom does the same.

In one such tale-telling-moment, the maid related an event wherein her daughter’s parents-in-law threatened her - while the daughter was in labour in a Government hospital - that she will be welcomed back to the home only if she delivers a baby boy. As it turned out, the daughter delivered a baby girl. In panic, our maid bribed a nurse to replace the new-born daughter with a new-born son. In just Rs 5000, the job was done. Perhaps the mother of the new-born son needed some part of that Rs 5000; or perhaps she never came to know about the switch and wasn’t even aware what child she had given birth to.

Whatever be the case, the maid’s daughter had to forego her own dear daughter – whom she carried in her womb for the last 9 months – to some one else’s son just for the sake of entering back into her in-law’s house and continue staying with her husband. This switch, to this day, is known only to the maid and maid’s daughter. The grand son thinks of the maid’s daughter as his mother while his own mother is somewhere out there and the maid’s real granddaughter is somewhere out there without even knowing who her real mother is. Or perhaps she is already dead in a ditch.

During pregnancy scans, the gender of the child is not to be revealed as per the Rules and Regulations set forth by the Indian Government just so to avoid female genocide. But of what use is this rule if it is manipulated in this manner, that too in a Government Hospital, for a sum of money?

In the above tale, every one has played a criminal act – from the in-laws (threatening) to the husband (meek) to the maid (bribing for the switch) to the daughter (agreeing to do the switch) to the nurse (doing the switch and taking the bribe) to perhaps even the son’s mother (if applicable) (accepting part of bribe).

At the same time, every person had a reason to do what they did - from the in-laws (desperate need for continuation of the family generation) to the husband (ditto) to the maid (future life of her daughter) to the daughter (her own future life) to the nurse (compassion to the daughter and daughter’s future life) to perhaps even the son’s mother (if applicable)(desperate need for money).

The only innocent persons are the new-born-son and the new-born-daughter. What did they do to lose their real mothers? A fitting welcome to the cruel world.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Natural Beauty

She had perfect features, with her eyes, nose, lips and ears the right size and in right places. That is all it takes to make people beautiful - normal body parts - yet why does nature mess it up so many times?

~Chetan Bhagat in "2 States: The Story of my marriage"

Monday, May 24, 2010

After-Life

Suppose there is no such thing called life after death, then it means its always a big get-together after-life! What with no one leaving Heaven or Hell as the case may be, there is no farewell parties - just welcome and get-together parties! Boy, its fun to get back in touch with so many great people with whom we would have lost touch...!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Salesperson at Jayanagar

There is this guy in a tie who sells microwave-able plastic kitchen containers in Jayanagar 4th Block complex everyday. He has a backpack full of such containers and he juggles about 4-5 in both of his hand. He stands near the Bluebell sweets shop and scans each passer-by to check if anyone is gullible enough. Sometimes he even crosses the road and follows some customers in the faint hope of them being interested in his containers.

He has never approached me as yet but I haven’t yet seen anyone even listening to him for more than 5 seconds. As soon as he approaches, people wave him away or shake their head. They not even stop in their stride.

Who would want to buy plastic containers from someone on the road when there are so many shops around wherein customers can exchange a day later if they are not satisfied? What is his profit margin? What is his ROI for the time and energy spent?

What makes this guy go on everyday? Especially, dressed with a tie at 9 pm.

Helpless

I received a forward which had originated from a professor in Tata Institute of Fundamental Research imploring a corporate friend of his to forward the email to ask for funds to sponsor a bunch of high school students who had been selected in a global competition to participate in a related event being held at Texas, USA. The mail went on to talk about the exemplary innovation used by the young minds and the irony of being short of funds to even take part (and possibly win) the competition.

When I read this mail, my heart went out to the professor. He was asking for about 2 Lakh Rupees. That’s peanuts for so many people in this world. If only a few such people come forward and sponsor those bright kids, this world will be a better place.

Some times I feel so helpless, seeing so many such ‘Want Money’ mails. It is at times like this when I feel I should earn more and more and increase my donation budget but there is only so much one person can do…And then again, a catch always lies with earning more.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yummy!

Friday Breakfast: Khara Bhath (Uppit)

Friday Lunch: Chow Chow Bhath (Uppit, Shira/Sajjige)

Friday Evening snack-cum-Dinner: Avalakki, Cucumber-carrot salad, Banana, Mango, Apple, Toblerone chocolate, Basin-Ladu, Ice-Cream, Orange Juice.

Saturday Breakfast: Puri-Saagu.

Saturday Lunch: Curd-Rice.

Saturday Evening snack-cum-Dinner: Churmuri, Veg-Puff, Chips, Gobi Manchuri, Dahi-Puri, Banana.

Sunday Breakfast: Vermicelli

Sunday Lunch: Tomato Cream Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, French Fries

Sunday Evening snack-cum-Dinner: Masala-Bonda, Sambar-Vada, Pani Puri, Sambar-Rice, Curd-Rice.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The case of the Hello Tune

I received an sms from Airtel stating that a Hello Tune (Kannada song) was subscribed to my cell phone and it was charged at Rs 10 for 10 days. This was without any intimation from me. I also received an sms stating what needs to be done if I didn’t want the Tune to continue beyond 10 days. But there was no message to indicate what needs to be done if I wanted to unsubscribe from the Tune right away and get back that Rs 10. Since I didn’t want the Tune even for 1 day, I unsubscribed immediately but I did not get back the Rs 10. Thinking that there might be a batch process that refunds the amount, I waited for one whole day. The money was not refunded.

My wife called up the customer care on my behalf to enquire about the refund. The operator informed her that I should have called up customer care before unsubscribing and the money would have been refunded upon cancellation of the Tune. The unsubscribing option was only for those who stayed with the Tune for 10 days. And since I unsubscribed via sms, the operator mentioned that the refund cannot be processed.

Much has been said about my anger in previous posts. As I overheard this conversation taking place between my wife (who was passively subduing to the fact that Rs 10 was lost because of my hurried unsubscribing action and because of Airtel’s policies) and the operator, my blood pressure shot up and I fumed. I snatched the phone from my wife and lambasted the poor operator like anything. You might even say, I almost bomb-blasted the lady! I outpoured like the famous Eyjafjallaj√∂kull and did not even allow her to get in a single word.

Worse, she knew whatever I was speaking was fair. I did not ask for the Hello Tune. Money was debited from my account without my permission for a feature that I did not want and on top of it I was blamed to have messed it all up by unsubscribing instead of calling customer care. As if I would know that I had to call customer care for unsubscribing. And why would Airtel want to make customers call customer care when they are pleasantly enjoying a concert or a movie?! Oh boy, it sure gets nice to verbally beat someone to death when you know you are in the right side of law! Its like pumping one’s fist after winning a hot duel! I got all fired up and spat fire for about 5 minutes after which the operator meekly gave the phone to her supervisor. I would have axed the CEO of Airtel too if I was asked to. It was not the Rs 10 that mattered, it was the gross injustice of it all.

I didn’t even have to speak to the supervisor for the supervisor just came on the phone and said the money will be refunded. It seemed like an anti-climax to me. I mean, here I was, all powered up to serve a 150 mph ace of a serve when the opponent just walked out on me accepting defeat! Sure enough, I got back my money in a minute’s time.

When I went to office and told my colleague about this, who was a fresher, she informed that she had been one such operator in Airtel's competitor company and the fact of the matter was that the operators were taught to convince the customers about customers’ mistakes and if the customer was meek enough and accepted the rules, the company made profit. But if the customers fought and raised their voice, they were to be immediately refunded.

Boink!

So much has been said about not to be angry and to treat everyone fairly and to always be calm and soft, and lo and behold, people misuse people of such character totally! Bottomline is: if you are weak, you get trodden over!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Social Entrepreneur?!

I often wonder what great human beings CEOs like NRN, Azim Premji, Ratan Tata, etc are. My main flow of thought is that they are great because they have given employment to so many fellow human beings, thanks to them thinking big and taking risks and investing and what not. But my friend Adiga informed, quite rightly, that they might not have had such noble thoughts of giving employment to lakhs of people when they started their companies. Their main idea would have been to maximize the profits. This can only be achieved by recruiting the right people and pay them accordingly. Capitalism, in short. Employment to lakhs of people just happened.

I wish to be an entrepreneur too one day but not for the sake of maximizing the profit. It would be more for empowering employees to be bread winners in their homes. In this regard, I have found one small and simple way to start off. It is as thus:

In India, its very common to see all kinds of activities being performed by cheap labour. For e.g., we have folks on carts on roads who iron the dress. We have vegetable vendors in moving carts shouting out vegetable names on roads of residential localities with the hope of selling their inventory. We have tender coconut salesmen on shabby dresses without slippers cycling on punctured tyres brimming with hundreds of tender coconuts. We have maid servants washing dishes, clothes, cleaning the house, etc. We have teenagers wanting to clean the sump and the overhead tank. We have people to wash the vehicles and dust the windows. And so on and so forth.

My idea is to maximize the usage of such people so as to provide them with daily bread. Even though we can iron our own clothes, give clothes to the local guy on the cart who will iron your shirt for Rs 3. Do not bargain with the vegetable vendor and tender coconut salesman. Instead, give them Rs 25 if they ask for Rs 24. Bring in a maid to wash your clothes, dishes, clean the house etc for Rs 300. Employ the teenagers to clean the sump and the overhead tank and clean the vehicles for Rs 300.

Surely, these are the amounts which we can afford. For most, it takes a lot to just donate Rs 1000 for the needy. But if we get some of our work done for that Rs 1000, then it’s a win-win situation. Not only that, we are in a way supporting their family by employing them to perform tasks which we ourselves can do. A social entrepreneur. A noble thought, huh?

My mom calls me just lazy.

:-)

Calvin on milk

Who was the guy who first looked at a cow and said, "I think I'll drink whatever comes out of these things when I squeeze 'em!"?

ROFL :-)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Punchline

"We have been all the way to Moon and back,
But have trouble crossing the street to meet a needy person."


~ Read on Infosys Foundation website