Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Religion Conversion

There was a time when Hindus, especially the downtrodden classes were forced to convert their religion by the Christians. This was an easy task due to the ill treatment meted out to them by the upper class Hindus and at such times, the Christians offered solace.

Now it is the vice versa. The Hindus are forcing Christians to convert religion and that too with threaten of death if failed to do so. These Christians do convert their religion and to identify themselves as Hindus, they either shave their heads or wear a swastika symbol around their neck. Do they think that by just converting into Hindus and wearing the Hindu symbol around their neck…these converted Christians are Hindus now. Does not the heart and mind have any say in this. The lips might chant the Hindu mantras. The rituals performed might be that of Hindus, but Jesus is who is in their hearts. Why not let them be so? What are the Hindus trying to prove by forcing Hinduism on them? That they are superior, that they are the supreme beings. That Hinduism is the BEST RELIGION? What does it matter to them as to the religion that is being followed? Do they not realize that by forcing Hinduism on Christian, all that they are inculcating is hatred for the religion? Does not an individual have the right to follow his/her religion? That which brings peace to my mind and heart is the one I should follow, not the one that brings tension or hatred to my heart.

What to call such an act on part of the Hindus? Is it stupidity, or is it foolishness on their part? Or is it better to address this act as insanity and cruel mindedness? Why does it not strike to those who are performing such an act that this thing brings out the cheap-minded thoughts and actions that demean this religion?

Waking up to better days in our lives with no hatred but love for each other as an individual should be the motto. After all what is this thing called religion – something created by man only. Follow the simple rule of Live and Let Live. Be there for each other as and when the need arises. Shower love to one and all. Just remember there is someone high above all of us, The Supreme Creator.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pay tips or else – the threat looming at almost every household people when they receive the refilled cylinder. Booking and receiving LPG cylinders has become a big problem. Almost each household is met with unreasonable demand from the boys who deliver the cylinder.
I narrate some instances that I happened to witness:
Having shifted our residence from Mumbai to Chennai in the year 1996, our first job was to get the cylinder connection in Chennai. We went to the nearest dealer and got all the paper work done. We then enquired as to when we would get the cylinder. He said we could either take it along with us or wait for three days. We decided to take the two cylinders along with us and paid him for two cylinders. The person in charge asked us to give him Rs.5/- extra per cylinder. When asked why he said, it was towards charges for delivering the cylinder. Charges for delivering, but we are taking them ourselves, my husband shot back. So what he said. When he realized after some arguments that he would not be paid, he said if that is the case, we could come and collect our cylinders each time in future also. He made it clear that he would ensure the cylinders would not be delivered at our place in the future. So be it said my husband and we returned home. Though he did not enforce his threat I had to concede the insistent demands made by the delivery boy by paying him extra over the normal charges for cylinder.
When my neighbor had her cylinder brought after a delay of more than a week, she had this to contend with. When she handed over Rs.345/-, Rs.6/- more than the price of Rs.338/95, he demanded Rs.5/- more. When asked why, he said Rs.10 was the charge that they were collecting for delivering a cylinder. When she refused, he returned the Rs.6/- asking her to keep the tips to herself or shell out Rs.10/- as his delivering charges. Fearing future problems of delayed delivery of cylinder or being given a half-used cylinder, my neighbor paid the tips as demanded by the delivery boy.
Her fears are not unfounded since these boys do create problems by not delivering the cylinder due to the concerned people.
When asked why they are demanding tips when told it is not allowed, the cylinder delivery boy say they are forced to collect tips since their employer has not been paying their salary for the past few months. And that their daily living depends wholly on the tips that they get. These delivery boys do ensure they get what they consider is their legitimate share.
There was another incident when I was told that I would be receiving the cylinder in 4 days time. Not receiving my cylinder even after a week had lapsed I called the dealer and was told that the cylinder has already been sent. The same response came from the storehouse also. And yet, I had not received the cylinder. When there was no sign of the cylinder reaching me, I went to their office and demanded an explanation. The person there had the cheek to tell me that I probably did not receive the cylinder as I had refused to pay tips to them before. I showed him the invoice and asked why is it typed out in bold and red "DO NOT GIVE ANY TIPS TO THE BOYS." And why have they put so prominently in the notice board that salary for the delivery boys have been increased and so tips are not to be entertained? He said that it was just for compliance and I should not give importance to all those. And I still could choose to either pay them the tips or just let go and wait for the cylinder to come. However he did assure me that I would receive the cylinder in the afternoon. I did too. And I had to shell out their rightful tips.
There are some smart boys who sell cylinders to people willing to pay extra, not just tips but something more than Rs.25 to Rs.50 per cylinder. This happened during a shradham at my mother’s place. My mother had to pay Rs.25/- extra plus their regular tips besides the original cylinder rate. It is wrong I know, since someone is waiting for the cylinder elsewhere. But that is exactly how these people manipulate.
The delivery boy had the nerve to sell the cylinder that was to be delivered at my place to someone else. And few days later he brought me the cylinder and said it was not necessary to sign the receipt, as it was not compulsory. Later I realized the reason was because my receipt had already been signed and handed over back to the agency.
It sure is a considerate thought to pay some extra amount to these delivery boys, who bring these heavy cylinders withstanding the heat and rain. But insisting that the consumers have to pay them tips and deciding amongst themselves on what amount to be paid puts off even those who are willing to be considerate. The delivery boys follow this policy. "Pay the tips or else face the consequence of not receiving the cylinder. Choice is yours."
Though this is not consumer friendly, we just give in to their demands thereby facing a literally helpless situation.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My driving lessons

Sitting beside my husband and watching him steering the car with such effortless ease, I developed an instant desire to do likewise. How wonderful it would be if I could also drive so well, I thought. When I expressed my wish to my husband, he readily agreed to teach me. The very next day before he made me hold the steering wheel he taught me the ABC’s (accelerator, break, and clutch) of car driving. Only after some more theory lessons and quizzing me, he let me start the car ignition. Nervous and excited I put the gear in 1st position and pressed the accelerator. A sudden jerk and phut went the car abruptly. Baffled I turned towards my smiling husband who told me to let the clutch slowly and press the accelerator equally slowly when giving the car a start. After a few trials and testing the patience of my husband…the car started to roll. Even as I was getting instructions as to when to change the gears etc, I soon felt I had learnt it all and was happy that I could drive the car like he did when his hysterical and sudden shout brought me back to reality. He was frantically pointing to a large herd of buffaloes casually moving towards the car with reckless insouciance. Oh wow what an audience I thought for a moment. I stopped the vehicle waiting for them to pass the car and give me unrestricted space to move ahead. As we drove on we saw a man a little away walking on the middle of the road as if the entire road belonged to him. My repeated pressing of the horn had little effect on him with no indication from him to make way for the car. Seated beside me my husband told me, "The control of car is in your hands. The road ahead is not only for you but for other careless users also…make sure you don’t hit the vehicle on anybody. And if you do so, be clear that I would not be accompanying you to the police station." Newly married and not knowing whether he was serious or making a jest I gave a wide berth to the man on the road and managed to reach safely back home with the thought that there goes my dream to dust.
Few years later…an opportunity came for me to learn car driving. My friend and I found a driving school and enrolled our names there. After paying the initial deposit of Rs.1000/- each, we were thrilled when the tutor came with a tiny battered Maruti car the next day. My friend wanted to be the first to sit in the driver’s seat and we had the car moving with very little difficulty in starting it. She drove the car with no hurdle for a few kilometers and on our return I took to the wheel. I was immensely pleased when the tutor asked me if I had driven the car earlier and I was just refreshing my driving lessons.
The 2nd day was equally thrilling. More so because we found that the road was left entirely for us to enjoy and we could move without the fear of hurting anyone. My friend drove onward and I drove on return. The third day he took the same route. And this time we noticed that the petrol tank was on the verge of becoming empty. We did not enquire. But when it was the same in the following two days with the petrol level touching the red mark, we asked the tutor if we would be able to drive down both ways with the scanty petrol. He said there was no problem whatsoever and we could drive long distance with that level of petrol. This went on for five days with us picking our driving and theory lessons. On the sixth day he sent one of his drivers to teach us. This driver being smart said he would help us learn to drive a car earlier than the 22 days schedule provided we brought our own car and willing to pay him extra. Not interested to do so we declined politely. Three classes later neither our tutor nor his driver turned up. Upset at the delay in our becoming the proud owners of a driving license, all our efforts to contact him over the mobile failed. Assuming he might not be feeling well or so, we took an auto to the driving school only to find it closed. On enquiry we were shocked to know that Suvidha Driving School has been closed and the owner had left for his native place forever a few days back.
Disheartened we decided to take out our cars on alternate days and complete the lessons on our own. Luckily our husbands wholeheartedly supported the idea. So when I drove my car my friend became my tutor and when she drove the car I became her tutor. We slowly moved ahead driving around our colony and the nearby roads. When we became a little more confident we took our car to the main roads. It was just a matter of a few days before we obtained the license from the authorities.
Thrilled at having learnt most of driving by ourselves, and eagerly waiting to show my husband my driving skills, I took him in the car to the nearby Ayyapa temple. Receiving compliments from my husband, I felt I was in heaven.
I got an opportunity soon to showcase this skill of mine to my in-laws too when we drove down to Bangalore. Oh god! Was it not exciting and memorable to take to highway. And it gave me great joy when my co-sister asked me to give her driving lessons.
But not accustomed to driving car regularly, my skill seems to have slept now.
And the fact that learning to drive a car has been done without the help of a good tutor, there is some hesitancy to go ahead. So I know I need to refresh my driving skills and so am waiting for a good tutor to help me achieve the same.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ban on smoking

Ban on smoking
So much of late has been written and spoken on the topic ever since it has been brought as a rule – Ban on smoking.
Might be we could learn a little from this village – A.Pudupatti – near Madurai, as reported in the Hindu. This village with a population of 3500 has a self-imposed ban on smoking cigarettes, beedies and tobacco, for the past 90 years. Solid 90 years of non-smoking, amazing is it not. The mention of tobacco sends people into rage. Any outsider seen smoking is gently told to go to the outskirts to satisfy the pleasure they obtain from smoking.
Well nothing is gained without loss, so it is said. The reason behind this ban happens to be a major fire that was caused when a person carelessly threw a cigarette butt on a haystack. This made the people resolve that never again would any shop in the village sell any of these products/items and neither does one find a wine shop in this village.
The village does have its proud moments when they say most of the youngsters here are non-smokers.
The question is do we have to face a calamity or disaster to strike on us, do we need our lungs to choke because of the smoking habits to resolve that we would never do this thing ever again in our lives? Which in most cases happens to be a belated one, more so because enough harm, has already been done.
It has been rightly put by Duane Alan Hahn in his quote – "When are people going to realize that breathing in smoke from anything that burns is not a good idea?"
What right do we have to knowingly cause harm to ourselves and to those around us? Each individual has to resolve that he/she would give top priority to their own health and that of others around him/her. After all of what use is this few moments of pleasure gained by putting the entire life into jeopardy which is a sure sign of dying daily.
So before we go to that extent of losing out on our lives let us fight tobacco, to ensure that we win the war against cancer."
Pleasure, which must be enjoyed at the expense of another's pain, can never be enjoyed by a worthy mind. Pleasure's couch is virtue's grave. - Augustine J. Duganne.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Listening to elders

Why is it that one finds it extremely difficult to listen to elders, who happen to be one of our near family members? Why does it not register in our minds that our people have only the very good wishes for us and whatever they say or do is for our very own good? Especially more so, when they do have the experience about good and bad.
I found myself criticizing my sister for not listening or paying heed to what has been told by our parents. She considers advises and thoughts of someone else as the best one for her when she ignores those said by her own people. And most of the time the views/opinions/thoughts/ ideas told by an outsider is exactly what has been told to her for her very own good by family member.
And realization struck me that I too am behaving in exactly the same way. I decided not to listen to an advice given by my mom while the same given by my neighbor I immediately agreed. Only to find that what my mom told was much more apt in the situation. And that is how it happens in most of the cases where we heed not to their words or advises. (I do agree good friends and some neighbors do have good will in their heart for us.)
Questions I have been asking myself:
Why do we do so? Is it because we don’t want to hurt the feelings of our neighbor or is it that we want to be in their good books? Does it not strike us that in the process of not wanting to hurt outsiders we do hurt the feelings of our dear ones? So do we find it correct to hurt our own people while trying to be in the good books of others and more so when how we lead our lives is in no way something that they would be interested in?
Parents who have given their all to ensure their offspring does not suffer in life or at least minimize the children’s suffering are pained a lot by this childish act, they hide it so as to not disappoint their loved ones. But the eyes hide not the real feelings and emotions. Why do we ignore the tears and words that the eyes say? Have we become so blind to these in our life?
When are we going to come out of the false status that we have been building around ourselves in the wrap of doing the role of being a goody goody in the eyes of outsiders.

How rightly it has been quoted:
"I have noticed that many people can admire only those who are inaccessible to them. They cannot admit or admire the genius of a person within their local community or circles. This phenomenon is even more amusing when you find that a guru or a specialist ceases to be one in their minds as soon as he/ she is accessible to them."