Aata nahi hai mehenga – bas batwe mein hai kuch jyada paisa

The more we demand the more we pay. While it may be true that if we consume and buy more aata (wheat flour) we may eventually end up paying more for the aata. There is another scenario. (You may continue reading if you did not decipher the title (it’s in Hindi), for the topic discussed is what matters and the title may just be a justification to that.)

Let’s say I am rich and buy a property for investment purpose. My property is a shop but I do not like to be a shop keeper and so to make money I rent it out. I am greedy and I demand one lakh a month as rent. The shop owner needs staff and needs to manage attrition. He can do this only if the customer pays for all of it so he aims not at just increasing his profit margin but to pay the hefty rent in a foreign land where he came to do business. Customers also these days demand for all sorts of things and so the shopkeeper is dependent on many business people to help him stock up things for his customers. The many suppliers are aware of the selling price and gains confidence to ask for more for the product they supply. The shopkeeper is always there on their behalf to inform customers that inflation and rise in petrol prices have pushed the product cost. The former Bangaloreans and the current Bengalurians have always paid with a smile for what is asked for. This submission is unique in character when compared to other Indian metro cities like Delhi, Kolkotta and Chennai. Even Mumbai would be cheap for many products/services that are super expensive in Bangalore.

But I got a shock of my about three year life in Bengaluru yesterday. I purchased 10 Kg ‘aata’, packed in May’11, for Rs. 235 when the printer MRP was/is Rs. 310. I passed on the shock to my convenience charger cum grocery supplier at my societies in-house grocery shop. This shopkeeper supplies product to us at MRP. I will not reveal how much he purchases his stock of aata for, but I will certainly share with you the profit he makes (:-)). That is just Rs 40 on a 10 kg bag if I were to believe him entirely.

Well I know I cannot ask people in my society to stop buying conveniently at their doorstep. About Rs 70 extra on 10kg bag for a big pocket is not a big deal for convenience. My discovery of cheap ‘aata’ does not make me the smartest person in my society either. There would be others who know of other products which they buy cheaper because they discovered it on the different route that they take to reach their office. Social living in the past would have made such information common and useful in those days. But in today’s heavy traffic roads it’s difficult to use such information to go buying ‘aata’ seven kilometers away from home. It’s not feasible in any sense.

Google I think has brought in a solution for the netizen. Social interactivity is now already mostly on the internet. Societies discuss their concerns online. My solution to the marketing issue discussed above is simple. If you find a product that is commonly used by humans on your way back home from work. Upload the product details (brand and price and your name) on online spreadsheets sheets. You often go to office on an empty car and return likewise. Now, before leaving allow yourself to be contacted by people who are interested in buying those products. On your way back you get it for them. Maybe a dedication of one day a week will be sufficient. Eventually we may end up buying good stuff for each other for good (lower than usual) price. Shopkeepers may give more discounts on bulk buying. Our individual shopping efforts may reduce much. There will be less shoppers traversing on the road and hence a less congestion on the road. We may spend less time on polluted streets. The positive impact could be much more. But ah I think my virtual dreaming on the net should now end for a good weekend sleep. I wonder if social life on internet is just as virtual as it is meant to be, or could there be a virtual dreams coming true. If any of us socializes on the internet to make virtual dreams come true, please do leave a comment.

Flight tip from a British Lady

While taking off in an aircraft or while the plane starts descend while approaching destination you may be faced with blockage in ear, which may eventually lead to unmanageable pain.

When I faced this problem I turned to the lady, who was probably amused at the fact that I was not apologizing for the uncontrollable internal sounds that were emerging from my internals. How many times would have I had to say ‘excuse me’ for the sounds which were non-stop. The best I could do was to ignore her stares on me. I behaved as if I never noticed them. This probably made her ignore my miseries too. She saw me covering my ears, bowing down and sometimes saying an ah!!! But that was not enough to gain sympathy.

I had to finally say “Excuse me, do you know how to manage this pain in the ears”.
“No”, she responded moving her head side to side, but she also looked to be beautiful and it made me feel she was genuine.

I continued struggling with my pain for two more seconds and the lady seemed to gain enlightenment. I heard her gentle voice saying to me “Try Swallowing”.

“Swallow what?” I thought and I turned to her – she swallowed gently. You would have almost missed that tip if you did not understand these gentle people on earth who have mannerism in everything. They are not too loud with anything. Be it in their expressions or in their tone. But at the same time they send out clear messages if you have your senses tuned on to perceive them.

I swallowed air and was magically relieved of my pain and was left only with the blockage sensation. The blockage was manageable so I was wondering if I should expect a tip for the internal sounds as well. I thought I could take charge of even that and say ‘excuse me’ to the good lady. My blocked ears did not receive the second tip that she offered. However, I knew she was wondering if her tip had helped. So I turned again and said “I am relieved, it worked!!!”. An Indian that I am, I uttered my “Thank You” only at the time we departed on landing and without attaching “for everything” to it. She might have expected this the moment I got relieved but she still departed with a smile. I like giving a try to bridge culture differences without adapting.

A Whining Spirit

It was not a chance visit to the release of the biography of an international wheel chair athlete ‘A Different Spirit’. My cousin happens to have become a good friend of the author Anantha Krishnan, and had gifted me the second edition of ‘A Different Spirit’ on my 31st birthday. I went through the book very quickly and wished to meet this athlete with ‘A different Spirit’. My second thoughts brought me back from my dreams of wishing too much.

Whish a whish and the whish come true happened to me on 3rd Dec, 2009. A book reading session was organized by purveyors of fresh handmade cosmetics ‘Lush’. And I was invited by my cousin to attend the same. As a surprise for the ‘A different Spirit’, Anantha had also planned a release of the third edition of ‘A Different Spirit’ embedded within the book reading session.

ADS returned my greetings well and entered ‘Lush’ with the crowd cheerfully greeting her. I was awe-struck but I usually do not get hyper-excited. I waited patiently to hear from her for after all it was her day and a spirit that was shown to have immense courage in her biography kept my expectations raised.

Anantha read out the first chapter and the biography written in first person sounded like Malathi (so far refered to as ADS) speaking “…as I grew up, I realized that you need legs to run and wings to fly…”. And what do you think a grown up Malathi had to say when she was asked to speak. She with her undoubted faith told us “My disability is my gift from God…”

She might have said this several times. But put yourself in her place and check how boldly you would be able to speak so. Most of us who are better off physically carry a whining spirit. And lo look at this lady (especially I having read her biography) could just have no words to talk to someone who would say “My disability is my gift from God…”

I had the best opportunity to shake hands with her and push among the crowd and the media to get her autograph. But she had already given me something much more than that. Her words kept whining past my ears even as I was riding back home on my bike. Her words kept ringing so profoundly that I did not bother as to where I should direct myself. The 20 kilometers that I traveled to meet her turned to 30 for my return.

For me Malathi, ‘A different Spirit’ indeed became ‘A Whining Spirit’ and I hope it remain so until I feel I have achieved something of the sort that she has done for herself with her life.

Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla, who was once paralyzed in her entire body, has won over 300 medals and is an Arjuna, Ekalavya and Padma Shri Award winner. She shelters 16 children with various disabilities in the charitable trust she and her friends formed by the name ‘Mathru Foundation’. To know more about her visit www.adifferentspirit.com.

Snapped with the Snaps

A cousin who had stayed with us in his young days of learning had returned to us for a casual visit to our home in Orissa. He had come with the most modern camera and was taking snaps on the slightest provocation to this photographic instinct. We had met after a long time and though he stayed for an entire day, we barely got enough time – in between our chats and mother’s preparation to treat him well with his appetite – to take good snaps.

The afternoon nap (snapped my tired cousins snappy instincts) and then the 4 o’clock tea soon made my cousin realize that he really had to get some good snaps. The ladies got ready by 5:30pm and we started clicking from the land cultivated by my father. Soon the cousin felt that the nearby area in the colony should be covered and we came near a little vegetable vendor. Suddenly my aunt came from nowhere and started posing. And lo it started raining as well. The vegetable vendor guy came rushing with an umbrella and helped my aunt in getting the perfect picture in the rain. My aunt was filled with compassion for the little guy who showed so much concern. A crowd had gathered and the place where the aunt and the little guy stood turned into a theatrical stage.

My cousin was enjoying so I took the camera from him and started clicking and directing the actors on the stage. With dampened lights my photos were only barely good but the entire crowd enjoyed the drama on stage and people looked relaxed and relieved and full of joy. The show ended with my aunt kissing the little guy. A church priest suddenly appeared on the stage and appreciated me on my direction and the actors on the stage who mesmerized and entire crowd with their act. The darkness finally drew the curtain on the show and I got up from my bed and got hooked to writing down what I had just dreamed.