Games people play.

Annoying things in India

I often explain on a cycle tour how much I love India, at something like eighty percent. I have after all chosen to adopt India as my home and married a beautiful Indian woman. However there is fifteen percent I can take or leave and maybe five percent that’s ugly that, I hate. That last bit includes the violence and aggression but also milder forms of behaviour. Examples of this might be Babu’s giving you the run-a-round or businesses not understanding customer care.

In my view this results from the extreme hierarchy and the deference expected of people. It’s reinforced in the home, at school or college and at work. Do what you’re told and don’t question things. Know your place and don’t challenge the way things are, seems to relate to caste.

Even in the simplest of situations it feels like your treated like a child.

Today was a case in point. It might seem a simple thing, and insignificant but I think its part of that overall problem. I’ve investigated this and now realise all the mobile phone companies are the same.

I’m at the Airtel shop, I’ve gone as my phone is not working, I’m told that the SIM card was faulty and needed replacing. For them to issue me with a replacement I need ID. I have a copy of my passport on the iPhone and after some kerfuffle get a print out. Sorry sir we need to see the original hard copy.

I’ve been a customer for maybe over 7 years. It was the number used by Manjula so is very significant and sentimental. I’ve provided my ID to set up my account, it’s on their system THEY KNOW WHO I AM but still they require an established customer to prove who they are but it MUST be the actual document. Just to get a replacement SIM card for the faulty one. This will be my fourth trip to the Airtel shop. Inconvenience sir, no problem.

I object to the employees but they treat us as children because that’s how they’re treated by their managers. Who can blame them? Employees are expected do as they’re told and not question things. Treat people like children, they’ll behave like children and not take responsibility.

For years I’ve delivered workshops in London and a roadshow for TATA that’s about empowering employees to make decisions to be able to innovate, be creative and focus on creating a quality customer experience.

That’s not valued here and is nigh on impossible to create in a system that prioritises deference, doing as you’re told and not in any way thinking for yourself.

Sad.

My tolerance levels are diminished since Manjula died. She’d just laugh at me.

 

UPDATE

I went back to the Airtel shop with my ID card, fully annoyed but relatively calm. The new SIM was issued and installed by me later that day. Just don’t ask about the need to install it in a simple-smart phone before finally installing it in a smart-smart phone. BUT it still didn’t work so on my 5th trip back to the Airtel shop they’ve admitted that the SIM card and the rigmarole in visits 3 and 4 we’re unnecessary. I’m told it will be working by tonight. What lessons I can take from all this, I’ve no idea and I’ve lost the will to live.

New thinking

I’m from a disunited kingdom (formerly known as the U.K.) . It’s a toxic mix of failing system and careless immoral politicians accentuated by austerity policies and the acute damage of Brexit.

If seen through the eyes of those outside (yes that includes me) the situation has fluctuated between sadness, spontaneous laughter, pity and unbelievability.

But we shouldn’t despair. As a lifelong believer in the glass is half full it surely provides an opportunity for difference to emerge. We might yet escape Armageddon and The Age of Khali but we must present progressive alternatives in Britain and around the world. I’m encouraged by three things I’ve recently read or listened to….

Reinventing organisations

Eckhart Tolle’s Awakening and podcast with Oprah

A recent article in the Guardian about a progressive approach to democratising the economy!

More info can be found here, here and here.

All of which point in a similar reinvention direction about both personal, organisational and societal change involving localising and engaging people.

Maybe new age thinking, levels of awareness and consciousness, point to areas where we can change. In my view it’s imperative that we do and challenge the demagogues and extreme right wing shifts.

The election is coming!

Will Donald win again? No the election is in India not the USA but you’d be forgiven for thinking that politicians are much the same the world over. No not because of corruption, that’s true, or supporting their mates in business, that’s also true or being primarily focused on self interest rather than the good of the community, tick tick tick. All probably true. . It’s also about how they choose to focus on often non-issues to polarise the community, exaggerate them to create even more divisions of us and them and shift us even more to the right.

Well we’ve known an election is on the cards here because…

The local paper for weeks on end has had a headline complete with the PM’s photo , no wait a minute it’s an ad paid for by the govt to tell us how successful they are. Now the date has been set, the model code of conduct is in place and such crafty practices are not allowed.

We in Mysore also have the honour of supplying indelible ink for the elections. Once painted on someone’s finger it stops them biting a second time!

This is all getting exciting!

Our guests often ask..

Why is there so much rubbish/litter/garbage in the street?

fact is we don’t know but as always we have a view….

There is no simple or easy answer.

We offer the following to help sort the wet from the Dry! It’s in no particular order and it’s taken from what we’ve heard and experienced. Non of it represents the official view of the management.

Elitism. There’s Always someone else lower in the pecking order to clear up after me, it’s beneath me.

Options. There aren’t any. There are few bins, what’s to do? Oddly enough bins have suddenly appeared in the most unlikely places. Like here at the bathing ghats.

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Easy. We have a daily collection, a shrill whistle informs us he’s coming and to put the rubbish outside. If we miss him then it easy to walk up the street and dump it. People don’t like storing rubbish at home. It’s dirty innit?

Ignorance. People just don’t perceive it as a problem. The middle classes might blame it all on the lack of education.

keeping up Human behaviour can’t keep up with changing technology. For example: Chai was previously served in terracotta cups, meals were on a leaf. These were thrown down and those materials were biodegradable, it created no problem, except the unsightly mess. Nowadays we have plastic but we behave as if our waste will disintegrate and safe to just through down. It’s not, obviously!

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Insignificant there are so many other things to worry about, people don’t have a long term view and don’t see it as a problem

it’s always been like this. One interesting connection is to do with race and culture. Travellers or Gypsys in the west may have originally travelled from north india hundreds of years ago. There might be a connection. They are scrupulously clean inside their caravans (here’s Manjula outside a traditional one in the UK) but just outside it’s a complete mess. Maybe there is a cultural aspect that we don’t understand.

But hang on, look how clean this site is.

P1070840Individualism. Me and my own patch. I’ll look after my own home and doorstep but beyond that, nothing matters.

Blindness. It’s not noticed. Its out of sight out of mind.

Careless?

it’s a real issue locally. Just recently there has been a sterling effort by the city corporation and their teams to keep on top of the rubbish and clear it away within the day. But still people just carrying on dumping…. To make matters worse some people are forever setting fire to the rubbish in the streets.

OK it’s a big problem but change is possible, otherwise we’d still have to tolerate the Brits!

Here’s an interesting take from a blog comparing the north and south. Click here

Before anyone gets all smug. It’s been a worldwide problem. The U.K. had a campaign sixty years ago to keep Britain tidy. The logo is still used today here in India. There are moves afoot, local and national campaigns and citizens taking action.

So let’s leave the final word for a campaign group based in Bangalore. Click here…. it’s worth a look and take part in their mini quiz ..

So its not true that…

Unbelievable

You may find this hard to believe. We often joke about safety issues in India.

Just look at these photos. What do you think they are?

Picture one

Picture two

Picture three

Picture one is of a lamp post in Mysore. See the man walking by. The card, poster thing attached to the post is at about his head height.

Picture two is a close up of the same post. Look between the two photos, the white cable shows that it’s above the card/poster. It’s difficult to tell but just above and to the right of the white cable are two bits of wire. Now look at picture three.

Picture three, this is also on a lamp post and much lower down, inside the box thing are two red cables.

Any idea what all these cables are for?

In a morning on my way to yoga a guy drives up on his two wheeler and disconnects the two wires that you see in pictures one and two. There’s usually a spark. It switches off the street lights.

Yes, you’ve got it! The way to switch on and off the street lights at dusk and dawn are two wires hanging from one of the lamp posts. The first is way above head height but easily reachable when sitting on a bike, the other is reachable from just walking past.

Now that’s what I call f**king dangerous.

austerity rules!

I know it’s not fashionable but loved working for local government in the UK from 1986 for twelve years. It was a real challenge, government always is,  but felt we made some radical changes and I made a significant contribution whether it was funding innovative not-for profits, getting to grasp with environmental impact through agenda 21, consulting local people and dramatically changing services for minority communities and especially disabled people. That was then, now it’s in a dismal state.

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It’s often useful to see how others see us. Check this article.

“The disaster in Northamptonshire did not arise from nowhere. Since 2010, when David Cameron became Prime Minister, Britain’s Conservative-led governments have responded to the impacts of the global financial crisis with a program of austerity. In line with other European countries (but unlike the U.S. and China, which passed stimulus packages), the U.K has sought to manage its debts and repair its economy with a relentless trimming of public spending. For the past eight years, these cuts have presented a complicated picture. In some areas, like education and health, budgets haven’t actually gone down; they have just failed to keep up with the needs of a diverse, growing population. But central funding for the nation’s four hundred and eighteen local authorities—Britain’s busy quilt of local government—has fallen by fifty per cent.”

YES, we struggled to meet the changing and growing needs over twenty years ago and now there is far less money available. It’s a scandal.

here is the full article

Strike!

The Pourakarmikas who clean our streets and collect our rubbish are gradually coming back to work. They’ve been on a strike related to conditions of employment (promised contracts not having materialised) and pay.

Their timing has been spot on as the big event of the year in Mysore starts today. We can’t have litter filled streets now can we? Well some might wonder if we’ve been able to tell any difference in the ordinarily messy streets. Well we have. It’s been even messier. It’s one of the many things that visitors just can’t get. How come people just dump their rubbish in the streets. We’ll return to that subject.