The irony of conveniences

Its that time of the year again. I am in India for a short, hectic vacation which provides me ample material to rant about. So, its my due ranting time again. And before any of you classify me as a ranting no-good, let me tell you that I belong to that small group of homo sapiens who believe in bringing out the pile of rubbish swept under the carpet. And of course staying true to my actual abilities, I am not good enough to clean it up but hopefully someone good enough will see it lying around. Now let’s move on.

A few days back I was sitting comfortably in a train looking out of the train window on a platform crowded with people. While I was self indulging myself in appreciating (as a pseudo-intellectual) the diversity of the Indian landscape, a few beggars (4 to be exact) came by my window asking for alms. Two of them were old women, one was a child and the fourth one was an old man. They used various forms of begging and used multiple forms of emotional manipulation. However, my usual dogged response mechanism kicked in i.e., it is not possible to pay all the beggars (all or nothing), most of them are impostors, there are organized syndicates behind it etc. The mechanism ensured that I did not pay them a single penny. However, as usual after a few minutes my guilt kicked in for not being empathetic towards needy people. It was all the more overwhelming because of what had happened before the train journey.

I had booked 3 flight tickets and then had to cancel all of them because of a mini personal crisis (not mentioned for privacy which is in vogue these days). I had booked the tickets using Indigo and Jet Airways using Makemytrip booking site. When I cancelled the tickets, the cancellation charges were ~50% of the total booking charges amounting close to 5000 INR (quite a fair amount of money by my moderate standards). I am not going into discussions of whether it was fair for making me pay up for not using their service for valid health reasons, or for the airlines to exploit alternative sources of revenues, or for other stuff (lets leave that). If I could afford to lose ~5000 INR, I definitely could afford paying at least 4 INR to the four beggars. Somehow the hypocrisy inherent in me was magnified. I chose conveniently to ignore the ill-doings of a stronger party over a weaker one. If you look around carefully enough, the irony of conveniences in making choices affects us all the time. Maybe its time to pay attention to this irony. Its up to us to make this choice where convenience can again be involved.

Before I end my rant, I found the practice of these booking sites of asking for an additional “convenience” fee extremely insulting. Who is the convenience for ? Are there alternative forms of making the same booking (like in the railways) so that you can deem it “convenience”? The word “convenience fee” reeks of glib superiority and a condescending attitude towards the customer. I am not being naively stupid so relabeling it as “online booking” charges would make petty complainants like me happy for the nearer term. Makemytrip was a glaring example although they compensate to some extent by providing a guessing game in the form of redeem vouchers which go by the name of “MMTXXX”.

A rude awakening

Today morning as I was on my way to office, I boarded a rickshaw which was being driven by a person almost thrice my age. He was driving it slowly and every inch of the movement kept on making me feel pity and sadenned by the whole affair. After some distance I alighted from the rickshaw and paid him the money. He was so happy over his ‘bohni’. I did not have any change other than the money I gave else I would have paid him more.

What came as a shock is the disparity in the wealth distribution in the country and how the lack of education is affecting all. What also hit home was the point that we don’t call ourselves lucky over what we possess but just crib about it. Probably with a little bit of help and a little bit of compassion we can do something to make this world a better place to live in for everyone. I am still searching for the answer.

Back@home

After pushing from NIT Hamirpur, I had been on a whirlwind tour of meeting relatives. After 14 days of neglecting my mails finally after 2 days I finished most of my pending work. An interesting stuff which came across was when I went to my sister’s school Auxillium Convent School, Bandel near Kolkata to get her ISC marksheet’s photocopy attested, the school authorities asked Re 1 /- per copy to attest it. It was really surprising to find a school principal asking money to attest her stuedent’s marksheet or is the cost of her signature Re 1 /- ?

Its a bit difficult to unravel.

Saraswati Puja

It might sound a bit late but then owing to the mid semester exams on 11th February, we had to do it today. Organising Puja for 1500 odd people in an University is a tough task specially when you have 30 organisers and a fruit mountain to distribute. The idol we got from Kolkata was too divine. Over 5 and a half feet it was worth the pain to carry it across 1500 kms. I spent a sleepless night yesterday making the pandal. It was fun playing with hay,sticks,mud. I realised how much fun it is being an Architect and a Civil Engineer especially to see your creation stand tall in front of you.

I have just returned to my room which I left yesterday evening. Preparations are on for tomorrow’s feast, Puri, Sabzi, Rasmalai, Gajar ka halwa. Yum heavenly but then alas the hard work that will go into serving the 1500 people is a bit of a damper. I can hardly keep awake now. Am off to sleep. Got to check my mails before that. 😦