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.
My tolerance levels are diminished since Manjula died. She’d just laugh at me.
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.
A letter to my Granddaughter Poppy.
I’m staying with her and her mum and dad.
It’s her dad Ben’s birthday.
This morning on waking Poppy gave me sweets and asked if Manjula liked them and if we could telephone her.
So she doesn’t know about what’s happened, or maybe she does and she’s looking to me for further explanation and understanding, hence this letter to be read out….. to her, which I’ve just done after supper
Manjula has died.
When people’s bodies become tired and can’t manage anymore they stop working, they die. Usually it’s when they are older, sometimes when they are younger.
It’s OK to be sad, to miss her and to cry. I do a lot of the tIme. She’s still with us in our hearts and in our minds.
We don’t know what happens to their spirit when someone dies because it’s not happened to us yet. Most of us believe part of us, usually called our spirit carries on.
Manjula (and I and lots of people in India) believe that part of us carries on and usually comes back and lives within another body. So that would mean we never really die, nobody really knows.
In India when someone’s body stops working it’s cremated and the funeral ceremonies are about helping her spirit move on….
Some people think that afterwards they hang around in a beautiful place, like a valley, where they sing, dance and have great fun.
Some believe we’ll catch up with each other again, hold hands continue to be friends and carry on.
Some people believe that butterflies or dragonflies are messengers or they find some other way to pass a message back to their loved ones.
I know Manjula’s spirit is still alive – where exactly I don’t know – maybe waiting for me, maybe waiting to be the spirit once she finds another body.
We know she was loved and gave love and we can’t ask for anything more we still love and miss her.
I know she had a happy life when we were together, she was a very good person, looked after others wherever and whenever she could. I think and believe our spirits will meet again somewhere in the future.
So it’s sad because we miss Manjula but it’s also happy because she’s left us with wonderful memories, she’s still in our hearts and her spirit lives on.
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Why move to India…
I fell in love with India, its culture, people and places from afar and planned to visit in the 1970’s when I took a year off from my university. (I made a bit of a habit of taking years off).
True or False
I was a bit of a wus and not an adventurous traveller. I’d got as far as Turkey and the message from those who’d travelled overland from India was that it was particularly dangerous at that time to go to India, via Pakistan as they had just hanged Bhutto. So my visit to India just didn’t seem destined to happen.
Would I even manage to get to India in the next decade?
I hooked up with Liz and Ben in my late 20’s (We’re in the 1980s now). Liz had already lived in India for a couple of years in the early 1970’s so with one kid already (Ben) and potentially another one to come (Ol), India, was most definitely not considered by Liz to be a suitable place to take a young family. Her experience of India was as a hippy and she wouldn’t reconnect with India for many more years.
So that means I wasn’t also going to get to India, not yet anyway.
I have subsequently met many people who have found a love for India (not least the visitors to Mysore Bed and Breakfast). There are of course many different attractions and often its difficult to define what it is that they particularly like. For many people they are inexplicably drawn to India, it has a sort of magnetism from a great distance. Maybe it is the free flow of ideas crossing the ‘bridges’ west and east (especially Britain and India) that stimulate people’s interest, there has of course been many exported ideas (and zero) for hundreds of years. There’s been icons such as the Beatles, the travelling Yogis, the hippies themselves, Yoga, whatever, there is an incredible range of things that we’ve heard about that help feed our seemingly insatiable desires for India, India things and Indian-ness.
Michael Wood in his book (Big Recommendation) to accompany the BBC series ‘The Story of India’ writes of becoming ’emeshed with India’, ‘the great privilege to be welcomed into another culture and to spend time in it, especially one so rich and diverse and perenially illuminating’
Of course many cultures and countries could fulfil this but
…what is so special about India?
I’d have to wait, quite a bit longer to find out.