Our Residential Colony

My idea of a good life is to live in a place where the environment brings people together in ways that enhance their enjoyment of the facilities that are available.

I am fortunate to live in a colony that perfectly fits in to this idea of mine. When we moved in here seventeen years ago, many people did not know about the colony and auto rickshaws would ask for double the fare as it would be difficult for them to get fares back to the city. There was only one paved road and the others were on the Municipal Corporation’s drawing board. While there were some people already living in the colony, we were also welcomed as pioneers.

Most people had come to settle down in Pune either after retirement, or due to transfers to it for employment in the growing industrial sector. For many people, selling off their small flats in Mumbai, then known as Bombay, and shifting to Pune made sense. Larger flats were available at much lower prices and the left over cash made a nice cushion for the retirement nest egg. Our colony too started off mostly with this kind of residents.

Today, the colony has become what people call “up-market”. There is a multiplex, a few big name retailers, a shopping mall, some famous franchises like the McDonald, KFC, etc, besides others like, Roebock, Nike etc. Prices have shot up and the nice old gentle pace has been replaced with high speed traffic zooming around. Many software companies have set up shop here and the floating population with its attendant problems too has begun to trouble us old timers.

In this scenario, the colony’s joggers’ park a beautiful place, is a magnet in the mornings and evenings for people who wish to walk, jog or just sit around, and offers a recreational area for children too. Some very interesting things happen in this joggers park and I shall be writing on and off about those events.

Get Smart!

If you are in the mood for some humor and laughs, here is a site that you can visit for two short videos that will have you in stitches.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/06/15/movies/20080615_GETSMART_FEATURE.html?th&emc=th

Self-made man!

I met a very interesting man yesterday. He was introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance at the joggers’ park, where many of my neighbors meet every evening.

This new comer to the park is a new resident to the colony and has just moved to Pune after retiring from his own business in the Middle East. When I asked him as to how one can retire from one’s own business, he explained that he has sold his interest in the business to a relative who is also in the Middle East and who wants to expand.

Introductions over and preliminaries done with, I asked him to tell me something about himself and he started off by telling me “I am a self made man.” He then proceeded to tell me the story of his life, which is not what I wish to write about.

I do however wish to write about this business of being a self made man! Firstly, logically, it is not possible to make one’ self. Despite being a Vedantin of sorts, I cannot imagine some one being the maker, the material and the made, in human terms. Self-made persons do have mothers and fathers responsible for their birth. There must have been a lot of others in that person’s life to mould his character, and perhaps even his physique! There must have been people and events, which would have influenced him one way or the other.

Assuming however that what is meant by this phrase is that the individual concerned, did not get any assistance from his family and friends in his rags to riches story, this again is next to impossible. While he may indeed have not received any support from his family, every single person that he came across in his path to growth would have contributed to his existence, growth, experience etc.

I believe that our own Dhirubhai Ambani was once introduced as a self-made man and he took serious objection to this. He clarified that there were a number of people in his life who helped him along and participated in his life and growth and therefore he could not be called a self-made man. What humility!

Marketing Maladies – communication

This story starts with me receiving the following email. I have edited out the names for obvious reasons, but everything else about the story is exactly as it happened.

“Dear Ramana
This is to let you know that your copy of the above was sent through XYZ Couriers yesterday. The air waybill number is 12345678.

With regards
Sumathi.”

I replied as follows:

Dear Ms. Raipure,

I am indeed grateful that you have sent the book off. Thank you. I am also impressed that you have informed me about the despatch and having given me the waybill number etc. I thank you once again.

I am an Indian. I am 65 years old and in our culture I am at an age where I am revered. I do not know how old you are, but even if you are close to retiring, I am still too old for you to take the liberty of calling me by my first name. I am offended.

I write this not because it will in any way reduce the sense of outrage, but to convey to you that it is the custom, even in the land of the most informal, the USA to get some one’s permission before addressing him by his first name. I hope that with this mail, you will be able to appreciate our customs and values, and will refrain from this obnoxious practice of calling strangers by their first names.

RAMANA RAJGOPAUL

I received the following mail in response:

Dear Mr Rajgopaul
I apologise. It was never my intention to offend you.

With regards

Sumathi.

The background.

A leading newspaper advertised a new book and offered it for sale online. I quite liked the contents of the book and placed an order online for the book. After the book was dispatched, this exchange of correspondence took place.

My observation on the event.

I suppose that modern ways of communicating with customers are different from the way we were taught to communicate. I feel sad. Perhaps I am an anachronism, fit only to live in the past. I somehow cannot believe that the apology is genuine. Neither the tone nor the brevity of the message suggests it.