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July 21, 2009

Palm meadows in a desert.

Filed under: bangalore, personal — Tags: , — neosurya @ 15:07

Several gated communities exist, but probably one stands out…Palm Meadows. See this blog post describing the same. I saw an absolutely amazing comment in the above blog by Gan Sharma. The full thing can be read here, it makes for amazing reading, and resonates well with my thoughts. A few excerpts:

….

I have always wondered and asked people in India – what makes them laugh and smile so much sitting where they are! You can enjoy India if you go with a sensitive mind. Imagine this – you live in a 30 apartment building, all 30 have cars, children, friends, outing, et all of best life; you laugh and return boisterously every night at 12 o clock – and the security man has to watch all of you 12 hours a day, with not an Indian dime in his pocket, does not know when his next tea will come from, his total take home of $ 72 a month vanishing in 7 days flat; he cannot touch with his money, what you can afford to throw, he has an orbit of rice and sambhar day in and day out. Can you be sensitive to him or do you habitually sermonize on how these incompetent security people sleep in duty? You will enjoy India if you are able to sensitive to lives. Otherwise, my advise will be, don’t go. Enjoy South of France. Remember one thing, no one is waiting with bated breath in India, they have their little lives to battle with.

….It will help your psychology very much if you remember simply this fact – India is not living there to make your life comfortable. India has 1 billion people and majority is poor. India is trying hard to make lives of that majority better and is striving for the same. Every year there is improvement there. India is busy with itself, making its life better, its life tolerable; your comforts and Palm Meadows are immaterial to India. The main point is, can you make yourselves comfortable in what is India? It is a place where abject poverty interacts with Palm Meadows residents; the poverty goes back to T.V. and sees serials where people laugh and eat and do things which seems out of reach eternally for them. In an aggressive country, probably Palm Meadows residents routinely will get their throats cut; in India maids short change them for 2 dollars. I was amazed when a Palm Meadows resident was passionately out pouring about how a patch of grass has not grown properly due to bad maintenance and the unfairness of the same.

This is a good place to address the issue of a maid cheating; firstly, I have not been exposed to blatant theft; yes they try to make little money here and there – they have to survive. Mostly maids cheat, because we have no long term commitment to their lives; because we will pay a Rs. 2000/- bill at Pizza Hut or Baskin Robins, but negotiate the salary with the maid. If I approach a maid with a mentality that I am here to make one Indian family live well, you will see a long term relationship. None of us would have survived their lives, believe me and kept up the ethical and moral standards they have kept. The beauty of India is that moral and ethical standards are indirectly proportional to the social status. Why does a driver change jobs with no commitment? Because there is no commitment from the employer; what they pay is an immaterial small sum to the driver; his downsides of losing the job are not enormous. If he get a 40% raise with the neighbor, what is wrong in shifting? You did it in your career, didn’t you?

In India you will live happily and comfortably, if you treat all your servants and maids as you treat them in New York. We expatriate Indians want to have the cake and eat it too. We want the service and commitment levels of the advanced societies at the costs of ‘old’ India. A driver gets Rs. 6000/- – exorbitant and prohibitive? It is US$ 120 for the whole month of 12 hour duty for God’s sake!

I have a home in India and my maid has a key. Trust them; also give them long term solutions to their miserable lives, see how comfortable you are! It makes perfect business sense for you to pay the school fees for one year for your drivers’ child. Do it and see how loyal he is. Saying I am there for a short time is an excuse. You get committed to the country; the country gets committed to you. Otherwise, please you are there as an extravagant attachment, India is busy with its life. Approach your trip from this mental get up and I guarantee you a comfortable and lovely stay. What these small people need is not even what your money w ill do in their unsafe lives; the reality – a generous person like you is such an enormous comfort; such a lovable safety net. Like belief in God, it is not important whether you live up to that belief or not – you are a great psychological comfort; remember this, you will enjoy India.

….Food is the best part of India; you have food and food and food at unbelievable prices. You can go to any level you want, idli dosa camps to vegetarian authentic Italian joints – bars, wow, you can’t get enough. But what is lacking again? There is no great entertainment and places to go to daily inside the city, like what you have in each city in the West; you have to go to eating joints and bars with company, you can go to movies, some malls. Having said that, this is not entirely true too; do you have interest in traditional visiting places, culture, history, temples, and authentic food, you have enough to do. You can go short distances to great places. Socializing in India can occupy your whole life time.

….

Cheers friends. Finally, this issue of whether I will be happy in India is not an external question, it is an internal one. I have to be happy where ever I am. If I am completely happy in where I am now, why should I be asking questions about returning to India? Go to India from a happy position of being happy where you are and go to India to be happy. Happiness is in the mind. Really!

Found a very relevant post in the blog by “BIOME environmental solutions pvt ltd“; the whole post is here, excerpt below:

What if you and I came from a village with no education and had to live on the streets for 15 days before even some one gave us a job to wash vessels ? And what if you and I couldn’t open a bank account because there is no document to evidence your and my existence – Proof of residence and Ration card and what not ?

And what do they do for us ? They build our walls, the roof above our heads, they ensure we get our water and our shit is taken away from our toilets. They clean our houses everyday, cook for us and throw our garbage out. They do all the “little” things without which our lives would be an insanitary mess, out on the streets……and then would our abstractions mean anything? I mean to us, would they mean anything to us?

Yeah, that supreme abstraction that we pride ourselves with, our work ethic, our “professionalism”. So we haggle with plumbers, masons, well diggers, maids, the works – to be cheap. We often trouble them for their payments because we think they are “cheats”. We pay less because they were not professional, they didn’t use the right tools. We are absolutely pissed off if while a project is ongoing the plumber suddenly has to go home to Chittoor for an emergency or when he suddenly has lost control of his labourers – “Hey that’s not professional!!. My garden will get flooded !”

When will we ever come out of the cosy shell of our abstractions – abstractions such as values, ethics, merit – that we define and define only in our own social context – Never asking ourselves what they would mean to us if we were different.

You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You’ve been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
You’re very well read
It’s well known
You know Something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

– Bob Dylan

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