Friday, March 11, 2011

India....My arguement !

Everytime I crib about some process, system, public service to my friends I am bombarded by "If you don't like it here why don't you go live abroad" or "You are not proud to be an Indian you should have been born in America Instead".

Well I don't agree with these people. And infact I think it is these educated people who themselves by saying all of the above have what we call in India the "Chalta hai attitude"

I pay 35% of my income in tax. Then with what is left i am either paying 12.5-20% VAT or 10.3% service tax or both for anything I buy or use. In effect I am giving away 50% of my hard earned money to the Gutterment (government).
Yet for that 50 % given way I cannot
get good smooth roads to drive on
use the public health facilities
use the public education system
get germ free drinking water in my tap
open a restaurant without 25 permits and bribes
travel through customs 10 times out of 10 without being harassed
the list goes on and on

The sad truth is that in the year 2011 the 21st century, except for Bombay none of the other "metro" cities have 24X7X365 electricity. God help the Indian in smaller towns when his turn will come !
Even in the metros we don't have proper healthcare , schooling, drainage and drinking water !

These are the basics of quality of life.....something many of the western cities got by the 70s itself.
Yet instead of bashing the gutterment for letting us down, hauling them over the coals of the mind-boggling number of scams....2G, commonwealth, swiss banks,etc......what do we do ?
We accept it......fooling ourselves that ohhh....India is a poor country, we are new nation, these things take time, etc.

And diss the guy who moans about it. Asking him to leave or accept it. Well No ! I am not leaving ! And I am going to complain....bec i pay my taxes....and i have a right as a citizen to get something in return ! And I have a right to want my country to improve and for the citizens to get their due and not for the money they contribute to be lost in greed and corruption !

The Business ? no Art ? Joy of Giving :)

This week whilst visiting a good Bombay hospital for a regular checkup of my Mom I stumbled across a little girl in a wheelchair with her mom. She apparentaly was suffering from some birth defect which I judged by her slightly disfigured face. But what was most upsetting was to see that little arm of hers with a plaster cast almost to keep that IV needle in place and scanty air probably a sign on a more scary disease. Yet there she was like a little girl, talking to her mom about the little things that a child does.
Later on the same day a friend had a post on his facebook of a collection drive for treatment of cancer kids at Tata Memorial who cannot afford it.

That day I was very upset because it is moments like this that remind us of how precious good health is, and how much responsibility we the people who "have" have vs. those who needs help the "have nots".

While I have taken an oath in April 2010 that from that month onwards I will contribute an X % of my monthly nett salary to charity till the day I am earning a wage, it pains me to see so few people who give either money or time to any social cause.
These very same people will without thinking leave the 10-15% tip at a fancy restaurant or tip the valet but never give anything to charity. Why ? Or why is it so difficult for all of us to maybe give 1 hour a week on a weekend to physically or mentally help out somewhere with the skills we posses and use in our sphere of work ?
I mean i am sure many NGOs and social organizations can do with the skills of practicing lawyers, accountants, doctors, management experts, chefs, computer experts ,etc. It is NOT only about funds and money.

What also got me thinking is that I don't know why people seem to think that giving is only the duty of the rich. I did a simple example to disprove this or show you how giving is not about large sums.
India by some account has a middle class and above population of 200million. Assume now I asked these people who earn 200,000 and above a year to give just Rupee one per month towards charity. Surely 1Re a month is easily doable ? and I am sure all these people somewhere in rounding off errors would not think twice about a mere Rupee.
Yet those 12 rupees combined by 200million would give me a annual corpus of 2.4 Billion a year ! Think of the Miracles...yes Miracles ! I could do in India with this.
But alas it is not the case. Because everyone assumes the billions given away by Gates & Buffet and Premji is enough.

Do i sometimes think of the X% i give away and all the material things I could have bought if I had kept it instead ? Yes I do. I am human after all. But then at the end of the day I remind myself that, that Swiss watch that I crave or the new TV that I want, will just take 3 years of savings instead of 1 or 2. So what, I can wait.
Do i regret it ? Not at all. I cannot describe the pleasure I get everytime I write that cheque and hand it over to the orphange or cancer home or hospital. Yet to experience a better high :)

And that's why I say.....Giving must be a Joy. Give with your heart. Don't think of it as a compulsion or business or duty. It will give you more mental peace than anything in the world.

I've experienced it, when will you ???

Friday, July 16, 2010


Would you leave your house keys with a stranger ? Ask a stranger to look after your baby in a pram whilst you pop into the grocery store ? I am sure for most of us the answer would be a resounding "No".
Yet, I am sure many of us have at some point of time or the other, confided in a stranger. That unknown person on the long flight next to you, that random person like you stuck on the bus in a traffic jam, that online chat buddy. Sharing a personal problem, a secret, a work frustration or the understanding of being in the same situation. Why ? Because we know that that person doesn't know us, doesn't know the person in the problem, doesn't know who your secret is about and mostly you will never meet this stranger again. So you share more, because you feel safe. And most importantly this person doesn't know your past or history and hence has no fixed and biased opinion of you. Not having this bias or preconceived opinion, most will admit that at some point or the other they have received valuable advice or help from a stranger.
Yet it is our fixed opinion that prevents us from leaving the key to our flat with the stranger of a neighbour you don't know. Or asking that stranger to watch you kid at the park whilst you talk on the phone. Strange paradox isn't it. And another marvelous example of how fascinating the human mind is....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guess who is back ???

....Yeah its me ! After a long hiatus, I am back and should be blogging soon once again. About what else ???....the random, the fun, the crazy, the practical....all with my twist and spin on it of course :)
One and a half years was a long time to be away. Unfortunately after all that of my last post there was much worse to come and it was the worst phase of my life so far.
Anyways....till the next post.....Ciao

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lessons Learned

The last few weeks have been stressful. My Dad was in hospital for three weeks, out of which two in the ICU. There were critical moments even and overall it has been a rollercoaster for the family.
I've changed a lot as a result of all that has happened in these three weeks and I'd like to share my learnings with all.

1. Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today = True. It's in moments like this that you realise, that you should say what you feel to your loved ones or do what you have to do TODAY. Tomorrow is very uncertain. So be it making out that new insurance policy that you just kept delaying or hugging your child or doing that "routine" medical test. do as much as you can TODAY.

2. Save for a rainy day = True. Rainy days do come. And it is best to be prepared. It's all very cool to admire those people who seem to live for the moment and are least bothered about planning for tomorrow. Tomorrow when it does come with it's share of problems then one is not prepared to deal with it. This does not mean that you over plan and burden yourself constantly worrying about a problem or tomorrow, but not planning the basics is foolhardy.

3. Medical care in India has lost it's soul and Doctors are businessmen. Sitting outside the ICU 24 * 7 and seeing doctors come and go and other critically ill patients families what struck me what the common line once the doctor comes out of the ICU...."he/she is stable", "lets wait and watch", "I can't say".......and always looking at the mobile screen and hurrying to the lift.
No explanation to the family, no understanding of the situation, Nothing. The nurses are clueless and not so well trained. It is a joke.

4. Hygiene in Indian hospitals is a joke. My Dad was in a supposedly 5star suburban hospital. Basic common sense tells you that ICU patients are the most critical and susceptible to germs. Yet the A/C ducts of the ICU are covered in dust and anyone is allowed during visiting hours as is from outside ! with your dirty shoes, clothes, etc. Your not forced to wear gloves or a mask. What if I have a fever ? what if I have stepped in shit ? what if i've come straight off a train where 1xxxxxxxx people worry....walk right in !

5. Pity for the middle class. After paying a monstrous bill and seeing others also in ICU pay the same (mid-upper 6 digits) I shudder to think how the common man can afford good treatment and care. The healthcare system needs an overhaul. Quality healthcare and the rates doctors charge for operations is out of the reach of many.

6. Hospital - Doctor nexus. Insane amounts of daily blood, x-ray, sonography , ecg tests for all patients. the nurses hardly wear gloves and masks yet you will be billed for a box of 50 gloves and masks every few days. The cardiologist-cardiac surgeon planning is to be seen to be believed.

7. Respect a hospital when you pass by. It is th closest thing to God like power. Somewhere in there there is a new life coming into this world in the maternity ward. Yet somewhere else someone is losing his/her life.

8. Do your medical tests regularly. Especially if you are above 50. Sitting in the ICU the amount of people with ..Strokes, Heart-attacks, kidney failure because of diabetes, cancer was overwhelming. A little study shows me that the odds of the above diseases in 1 in 5 with a poor lifestyle. That is a very very scary percentage. Simply put, imagine yourself in your car with your 4 friends or family. Now think 1 of those people out of the so few of you in that car is going to die after 50 out of one of the above. Not a very pleasant thought but reality of the rubbish quality of life we live today in India especially because of the assault of dust, germs, pollution and infected water supply.

9. Health is wealth = True. All the money in the world cannot make you happy nor can it buy you good health. E.g: Dhirubhai Ambani with his stroke. All his crores and crores could not give him his health back. While we crib and cry about so many materialistic things we should be thankful just for having a healthy body for ourselves and our parents, siblings, children. Nothing is more important. Trust me.

10. I have the BEST friends = True. Throughout the ordeal the only thing that has kept me sane has been the love of my friends. They have called, helped and supported more than I could ever imagine. Be it my school friends or college ones or gym ones or even online ones. The level of support has been just WOW. I cannot be thankful enough.

11. The Indian system sucks . We love our heros and "power" people too much. We bend over backwards for them. The mother-in-law of a poweful CM aspiring Maharashtra politician was in the ICU. While we "ordinary" relatives of the person inside can visit them only in the designated times, the relatives of the above person can walk in and out of the ICU as they please ! While we have only 1 pass and only one person can wait outside, they have 5. Are you saying my Dad's life is less important to the hospital that his mom-in-law ?
The pits was when his son wanted to take the lift down. His police escorts emptied the people already in the lift from a higher floor when the door open so they could go down ! is the person already in the lift less important ?

12. Respect the people in the "white coats". Don't only admire the Jack Welch's and Narayan Murthy's of the world. Admire all those people in white lab coats who toil aways for their lives in labs around the it engineering or medical. So that we people have that new pill that cures us, that new injection that saves the life of a loved one, that safer plane so that we don't fall out of the sky, that new airbag in your car that just saved your life . Yet we forget them, when they have done so much. so we can be safer and healthier.

13. Read "The last lecture" by Randy Pausch

14. LIVE a balanced life. I am fed up with people being busy. All work and studies and no play. All stressed and solving the stress with alcohol or drugs or cigarettes or eating disorders. 90% of the people in hospital are with diseases related to the above.
Live a simple life. Part work part family part yourself. Have time for yourself and those around you. dedicate time for yoga or meditation or a sport or gym. have a hobby. meet friends and family often.

15. There is always someone worse off than you. I have told that to a lot of friends and use that line often. To console them and myself in the disappointments we face in our it a missed promotion or a broken relationship. In my own case I was complaining of how life was so cruel and my Dad was lying there with 5 tubes/needles in him.
Then in the next bed was someone with 10 machines and 10 tubes and needles attached to him. Was his condition not worse ? Were his family not worse off than me ?
Remember that your problems however bad....especially materialistic ones , there is always someone worse off than you in this world. Who has lost more, who has suffered more. It will bring you peace and more importantly perspective.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Humans. The fallacy of Intelligence. Human Emotions

I sit here writing this entry on the 1st of December 2008 with my air-conditioning on full blast. It's been a stressful few days for all of us in Bombay with all that has happened on 26/11 and onwards.

And I we Humans have destroyed our planet. That we have ecologically damaged it so much that on the 1st of december i need to air-conditioning on , something that i never every remember ? Have we destroyed our planet so much that climate change is a way of life ? How we have driven wild animals to the brink of extinction and depleted our natural resources in our never ending quest for goods and services ?
And how we have all these never ending battles of terror and war ? Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine,etc.

And who is responsible for all this ? After hearing, reading and more importantly feeling all this I feel like laughing out of pity that God created us as the most intelligent species on this planet. I shudder to think what he must be feeling now, seeing the great intelligence wasted and abused to the brink of destruction.

Intelligence the more I think about it, the more it intrigues me. Don't we worship it too much ? Don't the worlds best companies hire the "smartest" and most "intelligent" people as their board/ceo/md etc ? And as our policymakers and leaders ?
If these intelligent people are so good and smart how is it Citibank, Lehman the country of Iceland and GM, Ford, etc are all bankrupt ? And economies of most countries in disarray ? Didn't the harvard & princeton and iim educated intelligent policymakers and leaders see all this ?

In view of all the carnage that has happened in Bombay in the past few days and also all over the world in the last few years, I sometimes wonder if we are right in tagging love and bravery and honesty as up there in the list of most popular human emotions ?
Because seeing what we have done to our planet, our co-inhabitents and ourselves I think ......Greed, Ego, Selfishness should replace the list of most powerful emotions.

If you ask me, right now, in the state the world is, no emotion is more important and more powerful right now than Hope. Let us give it a that all us humans...the so called intelligent species use that intelligence for the good of this planet and ourselves. And live to see a better future.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Whassup ? Nothing much. Been "Busy"

How many times have you heard the above line in recent times ?
Well I've heard it a lot and I consider "busy" as being one of the biggest problems affecting us in the 21st century.
Slowly but surely this hectic go-getting lifestyle has crept up on society and all of us are victims of it.
Take the average day of a Bombay working citizen
Hrs in day: 24
Sleep: 7
Work: 10
Commute to work and back: 3
Get ready for work/breakfast: 30mins
Get ready for bed/dinner: 30 mins
Balance time: 4 hrs

There you go. 4 hrs is all I have time for .........for myself, my family, my friends. And if you work in investment banking or audit or any of those 15 hr jobs then please make it 4 hrs of free time a week !

Sure, all of us have ambitions and want to move ahead, and all companies want to get bigger and stronger, all kids want to be smarter and cooler. And in this quest we are losing our balance. No wonder we see more heart disease and divorces and social crimes and the like.

It's not just us working folk who seem to be pretty busy. You ask any kid "hey long time no see ?" and you'll get the same reply "Busy....with dance class and tuition and computer class and guitar class and what not"

When is the last time you managed to fix a dinner plan with a bunch of 6 friends who are working the "1st" attempt ?

I'd love to hear about it..................... :)