Friction 1

One of the greatest challenges facing we humans is friction.

So what do we mean by friction?

A dictionary will refer to the resistance encountered when two objects or surfaces come together and try to move. Such as a tyre on the road.

The insights and opinions we offer are about the friction that comes between different people, between people and their institutions or their communities and also between people and the wider world.

Our first offering refers to a particular form of lubrication. It counters the friction we experience in our day to day lives and helps make things happen.

In its simplest form the lubricant is a gift, a thank you.

The team that collect the rubbish and clear the leaves received a tip this morning. A thank you gift. Nothing wrong with that.

In my view when it becomes a requirement for service it starts to become a problem. An example of this is in the US and Canada where the level of tip to someone waiting your table in a restaurant is carefully calculated and absolutely expected. That feels like a supplement to the wage, required because the employer is a cheapskate and underpays their staff. It becomes an extra tax.

In India where I’ve lived for over eleven years we have a lot of experience with a particular form of lubrication, known as bribery.

This takes it to a whole other level.

If you’re a business applying for a business permit from the corporation or a liquor licence for a bar, pay your fee and a whacking great bribe otherwise absolutely nothing will happen.

Politicians do it all the time. Jump ship to another party and be paid with a ministerial berth or some other juicy position with money making promise.

Here are two more examples I’ve discovered just this morning. In my view they are quite unbelievable.

Want a job?

Someone has bribed to get a job at a state run business. On her rate of salary it will take three years to have earned the equivalent of the bribe she has paid.

Want a driving licence?

Don’t bother with lessons or even turning up at the test centre, you never have to get in a car, ever! Just send a bribe through a broker.

This is expected in most situations to one degree or another, it is so ingrained that no one ever expects it to change.

Some might wonder why it matters.

Children riding two wheelers

a new problem in Mysore are children riding scooters (two wheelers means motorised) with the obvious dangerous consequences.

A policeman stops three children age twelve on a scooter. Two of them run away (not a lot of respect for the Police) as he’s asking for personal details from the one who’s riding.

The Policeman telephones the father and demands a bribe or he’ll report it aunders an offence. A bribe of 5000Rs is paid. That’s the equivalent of half of someone’s monthly pay.

Bribery and corruption is inherent. Does it have the desired effect of stopping dangerous under-age driving? who knows?

It’s a sign

As they would say in Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’

Well I’ve had a few after complaining to Manjula that I’d failed to notice any.

The first major happening was the message delivered by the Dragonfly. I’d hinted enough, not least by having one tattooed onto my shoulder.

She came through, on that one.

Today a brick fell off the wall. This thick one knocked it onto the ground and it broke.

It’s a sign.

So what’s the meaning of this sign? erm…..

Manjula is pissed off with me for not sending a Valentine’s Day message. So she threw the brick at me.

She’s actually gone. As we approach our third wedding anniversary and shortly afterwards the date she slipped through my stubby fingers two sorrowful years ago. Maybe it’s a sign that her soul spirit has found a new home and been reincarnated. It’s a realisation that our attempts to help her move on have worked.

Helping her soul on the way on the anniversary of her death.

And maybe it’s a crumbling of the wall that’s hemming me in.

Whatever I’ll look on the bright side as this is part of my journey to learn from life’s challenges and realise something or other.

and of course, no matter what she’s still with me….

For at least seven lives.

Manjula’s Messengers

Today’s messenger rest on a branch of the tree across from my balcony, repeatedly flies away and returns. Sometimes it’s still, at others its chuntering or maybe chewing.

The dragonfly arrives as I’m writing about how we first met to be submitted for a literary competition. I’m happy that this messenger is a reminder that she’s still with me and loves me. It’s taken up residence on the branch. Lucie’s walk will have to wait.

The dragonfly leaves to be replaced by a butterfly flying to me on the balcony.

A few weeks ago, I complained to Manjula that I’d not heard from her. Within days a dragonfly maybe ten times bigger flew into the downstairs hall, circled me three times and landed on Manjula’s pennant.

Butterflies have often visited, since my appeal.
They also feature on a banner that Jacquie is creating in the U.K.

They get everywhere. Thank you Manjula

Our collection of friendly helpful bags grows and grows.

and everyone has a story.

When I’m 64, birthday present from Rakesh, one of my sons, Why else does he call me dad?
When visiting Oliver in Vancouver, he roped me in to promoting the film day, enticing innocents to watch short films on IPad in one of those metal streamlined caravans.
We had a young guest who works in a nuclear power station in the U.K. (it’s a dumb place, offshore of Europe) who had never heard this rallying cry from our demos in the 70’s
Over eight years I set up MyCycle tours with friend Vinay who also persuaded me to lead tours for Royal Mysore Walks.
Tesco’s original lifetime bag and most other supermarket bags were manufactured by this company in Tamil Nadu before the imperialist China takeover.
India with a cow at the centre. Let’s not talk politics or challenge totalitarianism.
A participant of one of my corporate responsibility workshops in London lead a legal firms attempts to connect with the community. This child’s bag design won one of their competitions.

Unbelievable

This message popped up
Simon and I were part of the team that created an event called Prince’s Seeing is Believing for business representatives from the U.K.
My response
India can be astonishing in so many ways. At precisely the time I’m writing about the first visit of the Seeing is Believing event in Mumbai, to a crèche on a construction site, I get the message from Simon.

We were working for Business in the Community and organising a Prince’s Seeing is Believing event (named after the Prince of Wales) to help leaders realise how their business could be more responsible. In 2006 it included this event, a conference on sustainability organised with the Bombay Chamber at the Taj and a week of workshops for smaller businesses.

We also had a wonderful time falling in love with India and it’s people.

Floaters

The type that we elders 😉 have in our eyes.

I’ve had a squashed fly looking floater a few years ago. The ophthalmologist in the U.K. said it would be no problem but to have my eyes checked if more appeared. One did in my left eye yesterday. It’s like a squashed mosquito. It makes it difficult to hit flying things with our electric tennis racquet.

Called the hospital, arranged an appointment for next morning (cost 260Rs) when they spotted a hole in the retina, followed by a second consultation (300 Rs) and then laser (1500Rs) to put a finger in the dam (seal the hole). Total price 2060 or around £20. All done and dusted by one o’clock.

Now before you Firangis swoon over the speed and price. In a commercialised service, as we have here, (think USA) you’re not quite sure if you’re getting what you actually need. I am however impressed with this hospital’s treatment of me and the Manj. I’m not casting aspersions but you never really know.

and the price may seem cheap but when some only earn 200 rs for a days work, it’s a lot to pay. Their access to service is severely restricted.

As someone born and bred in a country with the National Health Service, which has its faults— especially as the incompetents (politicians) are actually trying to destroy it — it still gets my support.

Faced it

I think it’s safe to say that I haven’t been avoiding it.

I’ve travelled through the most difficult period in my life. I’ve faced it, even embraced it, it’s still with me and always will, grief has become my unwelcome friend.

Psychology Today has something to say on this.

As I follow Manjula’s teeny tiny steps, remember our happy and yet challenging life together, as peeping through the cloudy sadness I learn more and love more about her, realise how lucky I was and continue to celebrate my beautiful, wonderful, kind wife.

I’m sharing always, and I continue to write our story but it will be some time yet before it’s finished. At times, it feels like I’m showing my devotion by building the Taj Mahal in matchsticks. So hang on a little longer. 🙃

In the meantime, there’s early postings about our life together, here on our site for you.

Check the contents page.

are we?

are we inherently mean and selfish?

I don’t believe we are. Its an age old argument reflected in the views of Hobbes and Rousseau.

it goes something like this…

Left to our own devices:

A – humans will be in conflict, a sort of dog-eat-dog approach to life and fight for themselves or me and mine, OR;

B -they will care, show compassion and work cooperatively.

It’s simplified but bear with me … Which do you think is most accurate?

I’m reading humankind – a hopeful history, he challenges the theories that suggest we are individualistic when pushed into a corner and argues that we’re more likely to work together and help each other.

Sound Utopian?

He debunks the dominant stories, the research, established theories and especially what we hear through the media, reinforced through word of mouth that we default to ‘I’. His view is that we default to ‘we.’ ie we care rather than fight.

We follow what we’re told and learned to accept, rather than think for ourselves.

Here’s one example:

William Golding wrote a fictitious story : “Lord of the Flies’ about young boys shipwrecked on a deserted island and how they behaved. What happened? As you might expect, they fought for themselves ganging up against each other. The result was mayhem leading to death.

This has profound implications.

By contrast, Bregman discovered a true story of shipwrecked boys. The result, was the opposite, as they co-operated and worked together to be able to survive.

Which story had you heard?

Most of my day to day experiences in life demonstrate people think about me and mine rather than showing care for another but it doesn’t have to be that way. Manjula (OK, I’m biased) was an exceptional example who throughout her life was faced with tricky uncaring people being selfish and antagonistic but she never let it stop her caring for and loving others. She was inherently kind.

I think much of our problems in society and the damage we do to each other and the planet is because of this mistaken belief and because our systems reinforce particular ways. These allow the powerful to dominate and keep their unfair share. So this way of thinking benefits some people more than others and that’s why it continues. It’s like ‘Lord of the Flies’ and this is maybe why we’re in the mess we’re in.

I believe it was Malcom X that raised the question: What’s the difference between Illness and Wellness?

It’s I and We.

Cool eh?

It’s actually our choice