February 20, 2012


As I stood kneading dough near my kitchen counter, I thought about Preeti’s latest prompt for Tea for Tuesday: Can a relationship be like a tea-stain?
Within no time, I realized that tea and relationships have so many things in common.
Some relations are like sweet tea. You always feel good about them. That tea never goes wrong; there’s a perfect balance and blend of water, sugar, tea, and milk.
Some relations are like shallow tea. You always think something’s amiss, but you can’t figure out why.
Some relations are like tea which no matter how long or how strong you brew, it never tastes good or right.
Some relations are like hot tea which falls on you and scalds you in the process. If you get hurt once, it’s acceptable to continue the relation. But if you get hurt again, there’s no point in brewing the tea.
Some relations are like tea addictions. You know too much is wrong; but you can’t break away.
Coming back to Preeti’s prompt, my answer is: Yes and No. Some relations can be like mild tea stains. If something in the relation hurts you, you judge how hurt you were. You also ponder on how important the relation is to you. You try to let go. You use the strongest detergent to get rid of the tea stain. No matter how hard you wash, the stain takes its own time in going away. Some relations and the memories we associate with them are like mild tea stains: the bad ones fade away with time, love, and nurturing from both sides.
Yet, some relations are like tough tea stains. No matter how hard you wash, the stain never goes away. And if you are badly hurt, the stain may go away one day, but to you, the stain is always there.
In the end, life’s all about enjoying a good cup of tea and forgetting the stainsJ

February 13, 2012

India Shining

(It was Deepa’s turn to select a topic for the group blogging activity and she selected “India Shining: two things you love and two things you would like to change”)
When Deepa announced the topic, I instantly found it analogous to someone asking you to mention two things you love in your husband and two things you would like to change. For all I know, most people (me included) would mention exactly two things that they like, but come up with a long list of things to change. I mean, he’s very kind and helps me, but only if he could do his chores without a lot of nagging, if only he would throw the trash on time, get me more gifts, help me more in the kitchen, gets up on time, and on and onJ
So this topic really got me thinking about what it is that I really like in my homeland and what would I like to change. There are literally dozens of things I like: the food, the people, the culture, the values. There are also dozens of things I would like to change: the dirt, the pollution, the corruption, the noise. So, do you want the good news or the bad news first? Always makes it better when you hear something good before hearing the bad, doesn’t it?
Two Things I Love
I absolutely love all the festivals in India. Of course, the noise levels and the amount of money that is spent is not justifiable. But what I love in the festivals is the enthusiasm and the sense of unity among people. In today’s hectic life, festivals give us a good reason to meet each other and spend some quality time. I have so many fond memories associated with each and every festival. It’s difficult to choose a favorite: Holi with its vibrant colors, Navratri with the dandiya/garba, Diwali with the celebration of lights, and Ganpati with the dhol, tashas, and aartis.
 I really believe that festivals also teach us a lot. For example, if you actively participate in a festival, you are bound to meet lot of people; share knowledge, ideas, and network. You can develop leadership qualities; learn how to handle different egos, resolve conflicts, manage time: in short, you learn good management skills. I would definitely say that part of what I am today is thanks to these festivals; I have learnt a lot and will continue to learn through participation. I would also urge my readers to actively participate and let their kids participate in the festivals. No matter how busy or tired you are, there’s a lot to gain by giving some time, energy, and presence in our festivals.
Knowing the good from the bad
There are always two paths to take: the good or the bad. India’s rich culture, its history, the diverse population, the different rituals have so much to teach us. I feel that the values our parents instill in us help in choosing the right vs. wrong. I don’t remember my mom or teachers teaching a subject “Values and culture”, but they are still passed on from generations after generations.
From a very early age, we expose and teach kids a plethora of shlokas and devotional songs, which build the foundation for learning good lessons. They also help us in learning recitation and improving our memory. I still remember my mother asking us to chant “Vadani kaval gheta” before eating the food on our plate.
Do you remember the story of the monkey and the crocodile? I am sure you do. It taught us a valuable lesson that presence of mind is always important. At a very early age, our parents introduced us to moral stories such as panchatantra which teach us good valuable lessons through short stories and anecdotes.
Lastly, we learn to observe and implement. Always help those around you, respect your elders, do not raise your voice, do not support evil even if you are alone are just some of the wonderful things we learn by observing our elders. I always give up my seat in a crowded bus to an elderly person or a pregnant lady. I never throw litter or spit on the road. I hope my daughter observes and learns these things.
No matter how old we grow, we can never forget these lessons. They help in shaping us in what we become and aid us in making the right choices in life.
Two Things I Would Like to Change
Customer Service or Customer Satisfaction
Does anyone in India ever care about customer service? I think not. In India, the focus seems to be more on selling a product or getting the job done, but not on quality. In US, we can return a product for up to 90 days after purchasing it. If you have a bad product experience, return the product and replace it. For me, it’s a sure sign that the customer might return for another product.
In India, if your product is broken, you have to call umpteen times to reach the repairmen. Banks, retail stores are always flooded with people with a long line at checkout. At the boarding desk in India, the lady made an error in our boarding passes which resulted in us to wait for over 2 hrs at the same place. Did she apologize? No. Did anyone attend to us at the earliest? No. It was only after we had completely lost it, that someone saw our passes, checked all of our 9 check-in bags, verified that we were not terrorists, and let us proceed to immigration. Why wasn’t this done in the first 15 minutes?
The customer is GOD and if you treat him well and give him a good experience, your business will flourish.
Safe place for women
It shocks and makes me extremely sad to realize that India is still not very safe for women. Open any newspaper and there would be at least 2-3 news of rapes within any part of India. I was under the illusion that at least Mumbai is comparatively safe. But this news shattered my illusion. While travelling in public transport in Mumbai is not so risky, friends have told me horror stories of public transport in Delhi. I dare not think what happens in the rural villages. It breaks my heart to think that the very woman, who gives birth, nurses her kids, and sacrifices so much to bring them up, is sometimes looked upon as an object of pleasure and is forced to give pleasure. If I were to have the power to change something, I would make extremely strict punishment for rapists.
At the end of this blog post, I cannot help but remember the movie “Nayak”, where a civilian is made a minister for a day. He goes about getting rid of the corruption and tackling the corrupt politicians. While some of the things depicted in the movie were very farfetched, if we have a minister who takes every good idea and turns it into a good deed, our country will be a much safer and better place to live. Jai Hind!