Thursday, December 27, 2007

Work Culture

In a call with one of the clients yesterday night-

"What time was it now in India?"
I - "It's 7.45 PM"

"Oh Jesus! I'm extremely sorry to keep you late. Shall we wrap it up and continue it tomorrow?"
I - "No, it's fine. I have another meeting with XYZ following this."

I and my friends have been discussing the Work culture in India and other countries for the last few days - One of them was that in the West, they follow strict times and never turn up in weekends. And we waste so much time on lunch, coffee-breaks and snacks and finally show to the people how hard we work and how late we stay regularly.

The former is not true always as in the case of some of my colleagues. And the latter is not true always.

We have got used to this. But, something that should be looked at is the uneven distribution of work - Some slog for months forgetting sun and weekends (Is there a reverse process of tanning?) and some come at 10.30 and leave by 4/5.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Moral/Ethical values - Start thinking

CAUTION: Long read!

A majority of us in the company are youth. We boast to driven by values.

- When some unfortunate incident like bomb blast, fly-over collapse happens, we give our quality views on the corporate bulletin boards (A web portal where employees share their views).
- We speak about the declining moral values of politicians. We comment on raising corruption.
- We declare that the “System is like that. It is irreparable.”.
- We admire supposed- to-be patriotic and youth-inspiring movies like Yuva, Rang De Basanti, Lage Raho Munnabhai, etc. and tell that these things can happen only in Filmy world and we can’t do anything.
- When we don’t get an engineering seat or a local job, we push it on cheap-reservation politics or on a recommendation from local MLA.
- When we don’t get a filmy ticket (not multiplexes) for first day, we blame the big group in the theater laughing at us who have obviously got them in advance for being classmates of theater owner’s son.
- When we don’t get accommodation in Tirumala – we curse the people who have got it due to recommendation from an MP thanks to a distant (non-existing sometimes) relationship with his P.A.’s brother-in-law.
- When we have to stand in a long queue or in those jail cells for hours in Tirumala – we curse the people who got through VIP darshan and Special cellar darshan.
- When our bus gets jammed in traffic - we complain to our co-passengers on how negligent and rash today drivers are and why don’t they follow traffic rules being educated and civilized.
- When we drive the bike/car and nearly bumped into a group of pedestrians, we curse them for walking right in the middle of the road.
- When we are pedestrians and faced the same, we find fault in the road-rashers and not the authorities for not providing footpaths.

But, what do and why do I do?

- I don’t boast of as THE PERFECT following all legal rules, respecting all moral values with high ethical principles.
- I did, am doing and will do some of the above actions.
Am I ethical? The answer is No. Then why should I ask everyone to follow the law and the moral values.

Because –
- I try to follow them as much as I can (This ‘much’ is relative and may differ from person to person. And again, when I don’t, people call me opportunist).
- We live in a society. If we don’t have laws, rules and principles governing us – then the resultant will be utter chaos. Many Hollywood movies came on this theme.
- Even animal kingdoms have laws.
- If everyone thinks I cannot change the society alone and my wrong-doings will not affect the society – then it’s like "A cat closes her eyes and drinks milk thinking noone is watching her!" and the Milk story in Akbar-Birbal / Tenali Ramakrishna (Ramlinga for non-Telugus) and other folk stories.

Start thinking.

How many times you might have avoided causing inconvenience to others due to your urge to finish your things quickly or could have got the job finished in the straight path but had chosen the shortest but not the legally/morally/ethically correct pat again due to your urge to finish your things quickly.

You are answerable only to your conscience.

Now, why I write this?

A person put a Train ticket sale on a corporate Bulletin Board and these are some of the responses/view from today’s youth and a few of them are interesting and most I can’t digest.

Ultimately one has to answer to their inner voice. But also be prepared for adverse consequences. And when your luck runs out, don’t play the victim because you are not one.

Sanjay Dutt kept a gun and Salman Khan killed a deer. They never thought at that time it would come back to haunt them the way it has. Next time you break a law, think about the risk and if you think it’s worth it, it’s up to you.

I personally don’t see any issue in selling the ticket to anyone whom I know or a fellow mate. All those who talk about the moral and legal aspects neebds to understand the practical aspects as well.

Just ponder…

Have u not bribed the police when he came for ur house verification to issue a passport
Never ever given any cash to the Traffic police even though with most of the correct documents.
There are many instances like this…where you are forced to be practical follow this unwritten rules.
And I want to state my opinion that giving a ticket to colleague is OK but using Bulletin board for this purpose is bad because it is against the company policy.

Unfortunately, if you follow rules in most of the cases, you are like a stupid.
Go by the general practice. Don’t worry about the rules and sections. Very few officials know abt the rules and sections.
Tell me how often a TTC has verified your ID card while traveling on a train? I am not advocating anything against the law!. But If you are supposed to travel and bought a ticket, and you are not able to travel but your brother can travel instead of you. I don’t think you cancel your ticket and buy a waitlist ticket for your brother, do you?

Its not selling …. If somebody wants to help a colleague whats wrong in that ?
Its Festival time ..very difficult to get tickets ..and if someone has a spare ticket he/she can always offer it to the needy . And yes , one cannot donate a ticket he/she has to take the money from the needy person .
No ones explicitly selling tickets here ….. its just a help .

p.s.: I have to use “We” since most of the readers (not only Indians) can relate to this and if you don’t relate, just don’t think you are part of this “We”.

Monday, October 15, 2007


How would you describe someone who has risen up and become a manager?

The word boss has its origins in Dutch (from baas: master, foreman), but
there are several homonyms of the word. Is your boss a timid manager, or
a bungler, or ... ? Depending on how your boss runs the show, you apply
one of these alternative meanings:

1. boss : a calf or a cow. That's where Bossy, a familiar name for a cow,
comes from. (From English dialect borse/boss/buss: a six-months-old calf)

2. boss: a protuberance or swelling on the body of an animal or plant
This is where the word emboss comes from. (From Old French boce)

3. boss-eyed, adjective: cross-eyed or squint-eyed. (origin uncertain)

4. boss, verb: to bungle. (origin uncertain)

Why refer to your supervisor just as a plain old boss? On National Boss Day
(Oct 16), why not use a more colorful word from this week's selection?

archon (AHR-kon) noun

A high official or ruler.

[From Latin archon, from Greek arkhon (magistrate), from arkhein (to be
first, to rule). An archon was one of the nine principal magistrates in
ancient Athens.]

It is said that a rogue does not look you in the face, neither does an
honest man look at you as if he had his reputation to establish. I have
seen some who did not know when to turn aside their eyes in meeting yours.
A truly confident and magnanimous spirit is wiser than to contend for the
mastery in such encounters. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author


Saturday, October 13, 2007

One mistake

One mistake in the end can ruin the effort a person has put in for years.
We have many examples from the past to prove this. But, people can't resist their temptations and greediness for that one extra thing.

The latest to prove is Inzamam-UL-Haq.

If he has not tempted for that silly shot -
1.He would have scored that extra 3 runs to put Miandad behind and become the highest test run getter for Pak.
2. The career average would not have slipped below 50
3. If he has stayed till end and saved the match, people will have remembered him for a long time than they may as of now.
4. If Pak loses this match, people will forget the number of matches he has won single-handedly for his country and the number of matches he has saved.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Telugu's English pronunciation blues - II

Disclaimer: This article is not to demean a particular section of the society. It is an analysis of problems faced by me during my journey TBE, but most of these are still present in Telugu-speaking people. Some of them may apply to other Indians also.

In Part-I, I wrote about my pronunciation blues with some English letters. Here, I would continue with some common words and syllables that were taught incorrectly by most of the A.P. English teachers.

1. And,Answer:

The Telugu alphabet doesn’t have a letter to represent the sound “eah” made as in ant, animal, bat, cat, fat, rat, etc. But, still the Telugites, including me, never face any problem to produce this sound.
Now observe how most of the Telugus pronounce the words – answer, and. ‘a’ in “answer” similar to honour; ‘a’ in “and” similar to under. Even, I used to pronounce the same way till I had started watching English movies in my 10th, thanks to the advent of STAR television network.

2. for:

Most pronounce this the familiar way – without stress on any syllable, the second syllable as light as possible; or sometimes, stressing the first syllable.
But, most of the Telugus (again I was) stress both the syllables. It hits the eardrum while listening.

3. environment:
Again, the common Telugu’s pronunciation is :- en-vi (i as in itch)-ron-ment. However, the NGC and the Discovery channels taught me early in my high-school that I should pronounce it as “enwirement”. I can still find hundreds of Telugu people at higher position use this word the former way.

As I have mentioned in the disclaimer, these posts are not to demean the Telugus (how can I, I belong to the same community); but to highlight the damage that was done and being done by the teachers to the students at an early stage.

We can’t blame even the Teachers because, not all schools appoint a graduate in M.A. English literature.

We can try to improve our English speaking skills by reading many books, attending sessions but it is very hard to get rid of some habits that were learnt in the childhood. Whenever we observe similar anomalies in English speaking by children around us, we should educate them.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Telugu's English pronunciation blues - Part I

Disclaimer: This article is not to demean a particular section of the society. It is an analysis of problems faced by me during my journey Towards Better English (TBE), but most of these are still present in Telugu-speaking people. Some of them may apply to other Indians also.

Good pronunciation is one of the milestones on the path TBE. Every word should be pronounced in a way that most of the audience can understand.

This article is not directed towards accents, but various problems faced or common errors made by a typical South Indian, especially Telugites and importantly me. My ire is primarily against my primary and secondary school teachers of English whom I feel are the real culprits.

1.‘a’: The first trouble starts with the first letter of the English alphabet (again careful to not append ‘s’ after TBE-I ). The teachers start teaching the language by making us yell the letter “AAAAAAAAA…..”, “Beeeeeeeeeeeeee” and so on. I had got used to this “A” so much that I used to pronounce the article “a” in a sentence as A in ancient rather than A in away.

2.‘h’: Next comes the letter H. The teachers in Andhra Pradesh generally teach this as “Hetch” – and we, the Telugites, add the usual stress as we do with Telugu words. It took me 10 more years to know that the “Ha” sound is not required. That’s why I was always confused why “an” should come instead of “a” before hour and honor (i.e., why it is our and not ‘ha’wer).

Telugites can observe this with the ‘MH’ in Devanagari on Maharashtra RTC buses and the ‘H’ in Telugu newspapers.

3.‘o’: This is not as common as the above two, but it happens in some schools in AP. ‘o’ is a vowel. Generally vowel sound comes from inside, whereas the consonant sound involves lips and/or tongue.
But my teachers somehow chose to teach ‘o’ as in vote rather than in old/own.

Again, I was confused with the usage of “an” before ‘old man’ when I learnt that “an” comes before vowel sounds. I used to pronounce ‘old’ as ‘vold’.

4.‘v’: I had always pronounced this as ‘vee’ until an instructor in one of those English in my organisation remarked quoting me that the South Indians pronounce ‘v’ incorrectly and that the upper teeth should press the lower lip while producing the ‘v’ sound; especially for words like ‘victory’.

Somehow, I got rid of the first three, but still trying my best with the fourth one. I will write about pronunciation blues with some common words in the next one.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"You have change a lot!"

"You have changed a lot."
"You are not the same JBwe know / we were with in school/college."

I get these comments now and then – from my friends and relatives. Probably, most of us get these firings.

I feel that change is common to human and it is required. Unless we improve with the times, we adapt ourselves to the situations and environment, how can we move on (I don’t want to use “succeed” as success is a relative term and conveys different meanings depending on the various parameters).

I hate shoes – was reluctant to wear them in the school. Now, not only I wear them for 9 -15 hours a day, but have also started wearing casual shoes outside the office.

Loud pop music irritates me – learnt to bear it.

As long as I do not change myself in a negative way (read, in a way not acceptable to myself – am not bothered about others) and if the change brings a change to my life, I like to change.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Helping Minds!

Where? General compartment in a Train (No need to describe)
When? Hot summer Saturday morning (around 45o C)



The train stopped at a station. Two rich-class young women got into the compartment (Since it is a day-train, all are general compartments except for a single AC bogie). One of them had a baby in her arms.
They looked around, crossed my coupe and moved to the next one. I intended to rise, but a generous young man in the next one stood up for them.
The journey resumed.

Scene 2:

The train reached next station. A family with two old persons got in. I offered mine and they shared it. A couple with 3 kids also boarded. They went to the next coupe. The husband asked the woman in the previous scene to adjust for the wife.
They were reluctant to move. Words were exchanged and finally, she got a half-seat. The husband kept two kids in her lap and the elder girl was offered some place by another person.

We moved on.

Scene 3:

Two persons in that coupe got down. The husband and wife occupied those 2 seats.
Again, two old men got in.

The couple as well as the rich women was not good enough to offer them some space.

What a quick change in the mindset of these people. Many people are eager to receive help, but become rigid when it comes to offer some.

Youth with enough vigor like us should look forward to offer seats to the old and the weak, even when they don't mind to pay back.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Emotional Dilemma

The world is full of emotions. No person can be an exception to it. Generally, the state of being ‘emotional’ is considered only in negative contexts - when the person bursts into tears easily, when in deep sorrow, when highly or ill-tempered. On some rare occasions, a person who is extremely happy may also be termed as an in ‘high emotions’.

But, for me sadness and happiness don’t complete the set of emotions. An emotion is a feeling we express at a particular instant – it can be love, hatred, joy, pity, passion. It is something that comes naturally, may not be controllable.

Do we need to control our emotions?

The answer depends on the situation.

When I see –

- The never ending sagas on the bulletin boards/blogs/hate communities – North Indian vs. South Indian, Sachin vs Sourav vs Dravid vs Others, Localites vs Non-locals

- A car/bike rider honking on my back in a traffic jam showing his/her (even female riders do) restlessness (this is also an emotion) though he/she knows I can’t move mine even an inch ahead

- A father killing his son, a son killing his family,

- During Shaan’s concert in my company, girls, even oblivious of higher officials and other surroundings, became too emotional and tried to outwit one another to have just a hand touch with their demi-god and similar things,
I laugh myself.

Of course, I am not an exception to emotions -
I become tense when watching close cricket matches,
When somebody constantly nags me or irritates me with his/her behavior.

I don’t control my positive emotions and release them so that I can share them with my dear ones.

I like to control my negative emotions and emit them when I am alone. Sometimes, I share them with my dearest of dear if I think I am not transferring them.

If people can control their negative emotions, the world will be relived from at least half of its problems.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Journey of Life!

It's time to write a blog with the title of my journal!

Yesterday night, one of my T-mates left for onsite.

This weekend, one of my lunch-cum-T-mate will leave for onsite.

This made me count the number of people with whom I have shared or am sharing the project/trainee batch (=160, but not with all, I maintained relationship)/cubicle/tea-coffee/lunch/room(s) in all these 3 years in my professional life and it turned out to be greater than 100.

Most of them either left the country (temporary/permanent) / Hyderabad / Organization.

What if I count the hundreds of people I met during school/college/relatives/friends’ friends (I can’t recollect some of their faces also)

But with how many of them, have I been really in touch with? May be 10%.

Once, in a while, I do my bit to bring up that nostalgic feeling among any of those project/cubicle batches by starting a chain mail - generally forwarding one of those stupid chain mails we exchanged or a stupid forward or a simple "Hi!" mail.

The response - either a flurry of five or six mails in 1 or 2 days and the end of chain or there won’t be any replies at all:-( Of course, I have to accept the truth that I was, and will be on the other side a few times.

Life is like a Train Journey. People get into and out from the compartment. We may try to build a relationship with our co-passengers – most of the times, the relationship ends at the destination station – either ours or theirs! But, sometimes the relationship continues – who knows – we can meet again!

One generic reason for this – “No Time!” But, why don’t we have time to just click a “Send” on one of those mails (Of course, you can just type a “Hi” in addition to the default signature of “Regards, xxx”.

But, sometimes there would be some genuine reasons – and quite commonly, only in these cases, we take the non-responsiveness of the other person seriously and not surprisingly ends up in the break.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The plight of NRI parents

1. Last week, a middle-aged woman (as usual, I read this in THE HINDU) was killed at her home in my native place, Guntur. She was working in a post of Gazetted rank in the State Govt. Her husband was a small worker in the State Govt, when he died 20 years back. She got the job, struggled and became a gazetted officer. At the same time, she brought up her three sons, two were Engineer and Doctor settled in U.S. and the third was an SE in Bangalore. She had been living alone for the last 1 year in the remote city in A.P. before she was killed (Sources say, she was killed by her relatives for the wealth and they were jealous of her growth).

2. After the above incident, many NRI parents (my native place, along with the Godavari districts is home for almost 70-80% of the Telugu NRIs) broke out in TV channels and newspapers – how anxious they were to see their loved ones? How their children treat them as servants – “My son, settled in US, took me there for 6 months to help when his wife was pregnant. Once he got a kid, he sent me back. They couldn’t get a servant for cheaper wages and she won’t be as caring as me. He didn’t take his father as he couldn’t do anything and it was expensive to maintain two. Same was the case with my daughter in UK. Now no one turns up. They even reduced the telephone calls!”

3. A friend lost his dad when he was in Engineering. His father was a businessman. His mom took the challenge, successfully overcame difficulties posed by her husband’s business rivals and financiers. This guy wrote GRE and went to US to do MS. His intentions are clear – to get a job in US, marry someone and settle there. His mother has been living alone in his native place!

Why do I mention these here?

I thought about the first woman. She should have been young when her husband was killed and she would have sacrificed everything in her life to bring her sons succeed in their lives. Now they deserted (I might sound harsh) her.

I believe in the ideology – “To get something, we have to leave or forget some other thing!”

I know about some common views like this –

• Every person has a career. To advance in one’s life, to reach one’s goals and aspirations, one has to sacrifice some things in the life.

• Every creature feeds its small ones only till some years. No young one hangs to its parents, once it becomes independent to earn its own food.

• Money, Career, Success in Life, Love – all these things are important to one’s life. But are they important than the parents –
- They are the ones who bring us into this world.
- They are the ones who teach us initially on how to get used to this world
- They are the ones whom we look at, when we are in troubles.

In this fast growing IT world that combines East & West using latest technologies like Internet, Web Cams, Net Phone, Chatting – one can keep in touch with the dear ones even though they are thousands/millions of miles away. But are they really happy?

A popular dialogue from a Telugu movie, Nuvvu naku nacchav –
(Hero is in AirForce (unemployed, roaming, … - Avara - most of you would have done this job)

Heroine: Your dad wants you to study well and settle in US. Why do you break his heart, by jollying like this.

Hero: You don’t know. My dad was very young when my mom had died. Though many had advised, he didn’t marry – just for my sake. He faced all kinds of troubles – he cooked, bathed me, blah.. blah. How can I leave him alone? Now, it’s my turn.

Ok. I will study and go to US, leaving him here. What will I do then?

• Suppose my dad is ill – from there – I can just call him and tell to consult a doctor and take some medicines. But, here I can take him to the doctor myself and can give tablets with my hands.

• There – I can roam in a car – but, here – I can roam my dad on the scooter all over the town.

• People like you, brought up in cities can’t understand our feelings.
(As told in my previous blogs, my memory is poor – I don’t remember movies that much – dialogues might not have been produced as they were)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oh Software Engineer, are you dissatisifed with your job?

The count of SEs getting frustrated with their jobs has been increasing considerably. I was one of those victims (not now). But I can see many s/w junkies who still carry the same feeling – even some of the blogs reflect the same.Someone feels that he should have become a great chef, but he was wasting his time here.Someone wants to go in a time machine to change the things.Someone wants to go to hills.What else?But why is this high rate of job dissatisfaction?

What are the possible reasons –

• Staying 100s and 1000s of miles away from family and friends (We build relationships with roomies and colleagues – but many of them can’t match up with school/college buddies and cousins).

• Working late nights (Midnight on average and 1-4AM occasionally)• Unconventional deadlines and work pressure.
• Need to work with people from different cultures and having different behavior, attitude and habits (Resulting in conflicts and misunderstandings).
• No physical activity.
• Being on bench or not doing any productive work (These people believe they have skills which are being under- /never utilized).
• No time for other special skills they possess (Someone likes cooking, someone likes writing poems and stories).

So, what do these people do, in general –
1. Crib, crib and crib – No result.
2. Then, some of them take the courage and determination to get out of the world – People stamp him a rebel.
3. Some try to take it for granted – They can never reach their goals and they can never enjoy what they do
4. Some try to seek solace in other alternatives – Blogging, photography, gossiping, chatting with friends (most of the times, these friends are their training batchmates with whom they spent their first 2 or 3 months of professional lives).

What did I do –
1. Cribbed for almost 1 year. I was ready to continue, but my friends were not ready to take any more.
2. Tried to impose a change by doing non-cooperation, revolutions, what else. I was calmed, promised many things, I went for the bait and the rest didn’t make any story.
3. Tried to take it for granted and live like hundreds of others – I have a 8-6 job, some thousands get credited into my account on every month, go and enjoy TV at room, weekend multiplex movies, occasional home trips, regular mobile and online chats. But I was not able to cope with this life for more than a month.
4. Then I started blogging – used it to the max extent to crib, vent my frustration, overcome my boredom and what else.But this had not taken me anywhere.

I realized that the problem was not with my work life, but with my attitude.

I changed my perspective of SE job.
1. Whenever I felt, I was slogging here on Friday night at 8PM, when there was a cricket match going on live which I was missing badly –
a. There were 3 kids cleaning the tables in the roadside hotel where I would get my dinner pack hurriedly at 10PM in the night to catch up the second innings.
b. There were these bus drivers who drove the whole night – almost 365 days a year – even on Dec 31st and the day before festivals – while I was hurrying to my native/place like Goa to enjoy the vacation and occasion.

2. Whenever I felt, I am not paid as much as I deserve – It took my father 30 years of banking life to get to a salary of 20K per month – which I reached in 1 year.

3. Whenever I felt, there was not satisfaction in my job and my skills were not or under utilized – I remember hundreds of Ranji cricketers who deserve a place in the national team, but were denied because of politics and biased selections.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Message in a Bottle!

This blog is not related to Alcoholism. This is related to Commodification of Water (About bottled water)

I have been thinking to write a blog on this topic, but found an article with above title in Saturday, March 24, 2007, THE HINDU, MetroPlus.

Some worth reading excerpts from this article:

• It is not about bottled water, it is about a mindset in people that you can actually buy water. There used to be a time wehen we used to fill water in bottles or cans while traveling on trains. Railway stations used to have water-refilling points. But today, you pick up a bottle and keep going.

• The biggest selling point of bottled water is claimed to be its purity, but the expose by the CSE put paid to that – “ A fear was put into people that water from the tap is unfit for consumption, but that again is for people who have taps.”

• The day might not be far when with your food bill at a restaurant you would get a bill for water (Most of us already do – preferring packaged/bottled water).

• Some Mr. Rozario points to a tradition in the country that person on his deathbed gets a last glass of water. He warns that in the future it might be necessary to keep Rs. 5 in the pocket ot pay for it.

• Bottled water is not extracted from somewhere. Local needs are being sacrificed by the extraction. Communities’ supplies are being affected.

• The new fad in bottled water is the variety, which is said to be oxygenated. The water is supposed to be “supercharged” with oxygen. It is claimed to have its won health benefits. Health professionals when contacted said it was a “myth in the lines of using iodized salt”.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

You know, I think, I mean!

I think you know what I am going to tell. I mean, what I write here, you know, you already know it.

You know most of us has this habit of using one or more words/phrases repetitively, I mean sometimes frustrating the audience.

When I heard these kind of repetitive words, you know, from the people around, I thought these people are naive in their communication, I mean.
But you know, when I have started observing some good orators' and great leaders' speeches and interviews, as such, I am disappointed to find these words, you know:-( The list includes a CEO of an Indian software MNC, Chidambara, Rahul Dravid and ...

You should have understood by now, what I want to convey!

Some common words/phrases people (esp. statesman and managers) use frequently, almost in every sentence :
You know
I mean
I think
As such

I sympathise with the poor souls listening to these kinds of great communicators.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Help or Business? (Please suggest an apt title)

Last night when I went Gachibowli, Hyderabad for dinner, I found two women in front of the mess – one was a young mother around twenty (probably less than that) carrying an infant and the other was an old woman (around 50, probably her mother) holding another 1-2 years old girl.

I saw her pleading with the people around and came to me – she told her story (donno whether made up or real) – that her husband came to city to work as a construction laborer and she came to city the previous day morning in search of him (the only thing she knew was he got work in Gachibowli as told by him to her) – that they hadn’t had food since then – I would have taken it as a routine patch up story by the routine beggars except for the last sentence she had told – that she was pleading not money, but food! I asked her whether she would like to have roti or rice – she said anything to feed her children. I went to the counter and asked the proprietor to pack two meals (he was watching this all the way; since I have been taking my dinner for the last 1.5 years, he and I enjoy some rapport). He was shocked and reluctant to give saying they would eat in front of the mess and spoil the premises. The bearers and other customers were staring at me! I promised him that they would leave as soon as they get the food. I gave them the packs and told them to go back to their place.

While I was having my dinner, he came and complained, rather tried to educate me that – they were regulars in this – that he had seen them quite a few times in the nearby local railway station (not sure he did!) – that they were there right from the evening - that they would go and repeat the same story in front of some other shop/hotel – that they cheated me and I should be more careful about these people.

I gave him a spot reply: If they had cheated me, I would lose nothing, probably half of my weekend multiplex movie ticket. But if they didn’t, then I would have tried my part to solve their hunger for one night.

Well I haven’t done any good deed, probably I am not ready to take them to my place and help them either find the man or escort them to the bus station or rail station and send them to their native.

But the whole night, I couldn’t stop thinking, why people have become so materialistic, thinking everything from the point of money; including me, I calculated that it would be only 40 if I buy them food, but more time and money if I try to really help them (of course, if her story is real).

This has also rekindled the questions that always ponder on my mind when it comes to philanthropy and service to the society –

1. To what extent one should indulge oneself in helping the society and country – more than the life like a soldier does? Or dedicate full time like a Vinobha or Medha Patkar does? Or donate a meager part of the salary to a social organization or trust and shrug off like a reasonably good person? Or think only about my life like an average and selfish person?

2. If at all we help some one, should we expect something in return – My opinion will be – NOTHING personally to me, but to the society that helped the person. For instance, if an orphan is brought up with the help of some good people and if he achieves a better position in life like a Software engineer or an IAS officer, I feel he/she should at least try to help some other people who are suffering like he/she did (a principle similar to Stalin, a Telugu movie).

I had a discussion on the second question with my friends during lunch today and one of them opined that “One should expect nothing while helping – Otherwise, it should not be called as HELP, but BUSINESS”.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dignity of Labor?

The other day I was chatting with my elder brother who works as Gazetted Officer in a remote town in State Govt., but salary is 11K even after 3 years.
After the usual chat, our discussion went on Job satisfaction vs. compensation. We both are in sync with the opinion that job satisfaction is more important than compensation.
I am currently in a stagnant position where I feel restless and sometimes fear to end up my career as an average person spending hours before a dummy machine, nothing different from an accounts clerk. On my train journey to home during the last Sankranti festival, I found myself in a bogie of 250-300 passengers (the capacity is 90) out of whom almost 200 were youth in the age group of 18-25; but I observed that bulk of them are not SEs like me, but working as small time employees, salesmen,etc., some are unemployed, who have had the privilege of going home twice/thrice a year as against twice a month like me (I enjoy holidays on both Sat and Sun).

That had made me realize that at least I am in a better position, something neither to crib nor become frustrated. I described these views to my brother and our discussion went to ‘Dignity of Labor’. I told I believe in this principle and that as long as some person is doing a moral, ethical and legal job to earn his livelihood that is acceptable.
Then, came the spontaneous remark from my brother that hit my face and shook me up –
I believe in Dignity of Labor. Cooking, sweeping the roads, watchmen and even cleaning the toilets and any job. But I don’t want to become any of them. I will become SE, earn 30K per month and I want somebody to do all this stuff to me when I throw some bucks to them. I still respect their work and believe in Dignity of Labor – So, is this your essence of life?”

p.s.: This is not the word-word translation, but a summary of our discussion.