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Thursday, 27 November 2014

The Miracle Makers!

Indians are a gullible people I am often told. So gullible that they may actually be convinced into believing that the earth is flat. Or else explain to me the emergence of Godmen/Godwomen, self styled or otherwise like a veritable assembly line. Poor Indians, rich Indians, illiterate Indians, educated Indians, rural Indians, urban Indians, resident and non resident Indians. All Indians! Caste, religion, sex, geography, language no bar.

The myths, legends and stories of this land are laced with a unique amalgamation of mysticism, romance and fantasy. From flying chariots to flying carpets, Indian mythology encompasses the entire spectrum. The ability of Rishis, Babas, Saints and Sufis to deliver you from any and all suffering, real and imagined has a pride of place in holy books as well as popular folklore of this land. Given this foundation it is no surprise that our minds are programmed to accept the modern day Babas who while living a life of opulence and luxury pretend to possess a hotline to God! And some require a private army trained in modern warfare to help them send you on a path of salvation without a return ticket!

Given the above it would come as no surprise to anyone that I too am afflicted with an urge to believe and follow! Who after all doesn’t want to experience miracles!  In fact my list of The Miracle Makers is long, very long.

"Annadana Prabhuve!"

Two hundred years of slavery had reduced the land of prosperity and plenty to one of poverty and penury. As India attained her freedom the overwhelming narrative was one of it being seen in the capitals of leading countries with a begging bowl, the permanently hungry pariahs wailing ‘bhavati bhiksham dehi!’ And amidst this prophecies of gloom and doom arose a Baba, a Saint who conducted what is thus far the greatest ‘Annadaanam’ Scheme this country has witnessed and continues to do so. Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan weaved his magic wand and along with his army of fellow scientists and farmers changed the destiny and with it the landscape of India. From famines to self sufficiency of food. Green Revolution! The Miracle and the Miracle Maker!
'Doodhwala' Of India!

With the abolition of Zamindari and land reforms, the farmers of India breathed a tad easier. But for a country which lived in her villages and populated by mostly illiterate people with limited resources, Independence did not result in any significant change in their lives or livelihood. Political freedom is a misnomer without economic equality. The village economy still centralized the entire economic and political power into select hands comprising of middlemen and mahajans . While the Shylock took more than his pound of flesh, the middle man usurped the rest. The unorganized small farmer and worker might have felt like still living under the shadow of alien rule. Till one man decided to dirty his hands. To organize the poor Indian villager, bring them together and convert them into a single entity so powerful that it transformed the lives of millions. And in the bargain created what the self proclaimed followers of Marx couldn’t but an unassuming man did, Utopia! Also known as The Milk Cooperatives! You and I identify it more easily as the ‘Taste of India.....AMUL!’ Operation Flood which turned India into the world’s largest producer of milk, the White Revolution, the Miracle! Verghese Kurien. The Miracle Maker!

Bhabha and not just any Baba! 

Independence came to Indians the hard way. 1962 taught her that a thin line divided the hard won Independence and slavery all over again. India was again seen at the capitals of the super powers and its allies, once again chanting ‘bhavati bhiksam dehi!’ Only this time it was for the toys which will protect India’s freedom by protecting its borders. These were the times when India’s foreign exchange reserves were not measured in $ Millions and Billions but by weeks, days and hours. For an impoverished nation the choice was of whether to allocate the scarce resources to either feed her people or to protect them from invasion yet again. In the end India did both. While the men mentioned in the above paragraphs helped give directions for the former, yet another laid the path which lead to India developing technology which not only helped her indigenously build deterrence strong enough to ward off her enemies but also help her address her energy needs. The trail blazed by him sowed the seeds which later revolutionized science and scientists in this country. Homi Jahangir Bhabha, the Father of India’s Nuclear Programme, The Miracle Maker!

Indians are a gullible people I am often told. I too am afflicted with an urge to believe and follow! Who after all doesn’t want to experience miracles!  Go ahead, you too. Believe. Choose you Miracle Makers wisely. And follow!

PS: With sincere apologies to Ramlals and Nityanandas of this world for whom all I have is 'Babaji ka........!' 

Rishi, Baba, Sufi: Ascetics, Saints etc.
Bhavati Bhiksham Dehi : Sanskrit. A beggers’ cry for alms.
Annadanam: Gifting food.

Zamindar/Zamindari: Landlord/Landlordism prevalent in pre Independence India 
Prabhu: Lord.
Mahajans: Shylocks

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I, Salesman.

People who have kept pace with my random musings posted here would have noticed my views on the tribe mentioned in the header. In case you didn’t here are the ready refreshers!. Before you groan “Oh no not again!” let me confess this is a new beast I am talking about. A ‘retail’ Salesman! Salesman all right but a new animal in town!

While I could identify, understand, empathize, and even joke about the two species discussed in the previous note, the latest avatar only brings my deepest sense of sympathy and often agony in my heart. For those who came in late, the ‘Retail Salesman’ is nothing but the customer sales assistants, floor managers and the other staff in a retail store. The ones who man and manage what is called the ‘organized’ retail stores which is relatively a new bitch in town. I am sure you can place this variety now. And if you detect a bias in my words while speaking about them, you are right! As I am one among this crowd for the past few years!

Organized Retail - The new bitch in town! 

Retail salesman in this new environment has 24X7X365 as the primary pattern written into his/her DNA. Suffices to say that this is a breed which is always on work. When the whole world is holidaying, celebrating, taking it easy, these folks are up early to ready up the store so that you can holiday, celebrate, take it easy and spend in style at your neighbourhood store, Shopping arcade or a Mall.

If you think these are lucky dudes who spend their waking hours in swanky showrooms, world class malls, air conditioned stores etc. just remember, they are not permitted to sit while on duty! (Except for a tightly rationed and closely monitored tea/lunch breaks) Try it for a day and I am sure you would bless your stars you don't belong to this section of humanity!

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Salesman!

There is an old quip about this set of humans. “If you don’t like family life, have no social circles worth mentioning, hobbies are nothing but a word in the English dictionary, are an insomniac and generally don’t prefer doing anything except work, Welcome to the world of retail!”

If you think all this is a fair bargain if it leads to loads of money in the bank then you have another thing coming. You will see some money only if you achieve your targets and above, ensure the products under you care are not shop soiled or are not pilfered and you have above average attendance! Essentially it means you need to be a Teflon coating for the products, be a surveillance camera of the store apart from being a consummate politician who can sell anything by glibly lying about any product by promising something which you know you cannot live up to! Engineers who crib about their life may kindly spare us your bilge!

The other well known and oft repeated quip about this group is “Whenever I look at my targets, it is month end already and when I think of the payday, it seems a million years away!” Faint hearted among you may kindly stay away from this mode for earning your daily bread. And if you think this is a story restricted only to the ‘lowly’ Customer Sales Associates, the ‘Floor Manager’ is afflicted with the same disease, the magnitude being much higher. Even the security guard at a store who is forced to double up as a ‘walk-ins’ counting machine!

Spare this variety a sympathetic glance when you visit the friendly neighbourhood mall the next time. Now that you know their story, hope you will understand the pain that goes behind giving you ‘Service with a smile!’

The pain of 'Service with a smile'!


PS: I often say, the Police, Fire Service, Hospitals and Salespersons have a common thread running among us. All of us, it would seem are covered under the Essential Services and Maintenance Act (ESMA)! Always on duty!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Show Me The Money!

Recently while chatting with a few friends on the micro blogging site Twitter I got into what I thought was an innocuous chat-fight. And I am hoping it is indeed innocuous and the dudes in question have not unfollowed me yet! The point under consideration was, what else but Cricket. More specifically the deeds of two Indian Cricketing legends, Sachin Tendulkar and Ravi Shastri.

The former, dubbed ‘God of Indian Cricket’ and the same being not far away from the truth, was in the eye of the storm as he took potshots at the long sacked  former Indian Coach Greg Chappell in his autobiography Playing It My Way. The issue was not that Sachin Tendulkar waited a decade and pulled this episode out to plug his book, which he is well within his rights to. The issue was also not whether Sachin Tendulkar broached this episode up with the powers that be at BCCI as and when this happened or not. The fact that Greg Chappell was sacked a few months after the World Cup 2007 fiasco might just well mean that Sachin indeed had. The point was the fans of the God. And their defending Sachin Tendulkar on his mentioning the episode in his book as if it were a divine gospel alone and not an attempt at clever marketing to boost its sales! The highlight of the entire event was that most of the people who were defending Sachin Tendulkar’s act of bringing out the goriest of episodes in the history of Indian cricket in his book a decade or so after the event occurred were the ones who had laughed out the loudest at Vinod Kambli and his allegation of match fixing decades after the said match was over!

Everyone has a book to sell!

The other issue under the radar was on the way Ravi Shastri was apple polishing the BCCI, his employers. Why many asked should a once successful cricketer and currently a very successful cricket commentator be sucking up to the powers that be at the BCCI and not call spade a spade? If I remember correctly, ‘shamelessly’ was the word used to describe Shastri’s efforts. This brought out an honest-to-goodness question in my mind, WHY SHOULD HE NOT DO WHAT HE IS DOING? I mean, how many among us have the guts to stand up and question our bosses or the company fiat? How many of us would risk our very livelihood, career, progress at the altar just to prove a point that the Boss is not right? Negligible if not none! Why shouldn’t Shastri who is already financially well off they asked? Who says only money is the motivation I ask. The allure of being among the powers that be in the administration of a high profile sport and who knows maybe a chance to head the body in the future is a strong enough motivation. Why would Shastri put himself out as a sitting duck to public ridicule they ask? Why not I say! What is some impotent outrage and ridicule after all? Zilch when compared to all the money in the bank. However much you may yell, you will ultimately be out shouted by the jingle of coins and the flapping of hot currency. Remember nothing speaks louder than money!

Has the money been credited yet?

My final words brought the house down and every  ridicule that is mentioned in the above lines and many more not mentioned and unmentionable was directed at me when I said that I too will kiss the BCCI president’s ‘dicky’ should I be paid a few crores of Rupees every year. While it might be hard for you to imagine doing so mates, all I say is SHOW ME THE MONEY!!

PS: Thanks Jerry Maguire for the title!


Dicky – Euphemism for back, arse etc!