More Is Good!

When my sister Padmini, read my LBC post “The Inessential Belongings That We Collect”, she sent me an article that she wrote for an Indian magazine for women, Eves Touch. She inevitably writes the last page for that monthly magazine and this article appeared some time ago. As a counterpoint to my own attitude and the others who wrote on similar lines, this makes interesting reading.

“Why do we clutter up our lives? Why can’t we compact our living and lifestyles? Is it necessary to keep adding things to keep up with what our peers think should be an integral part of our life?  

Morrie in “Tuesdays with Morrie”, by Mitch Albom has this to say:

“The truth is, you don’t get satisfaction from those things. You know what really gives you satisfaction? …Offering others what you have to give.”

Morrie says this during the eighth Tuesday when he and Mitch discuss money. “…those things”, to which Morrie is referring, are money and materialistic possessions. He feels that living a full life and being satisfied means offering other people what we each have to give. By this Morrie means giving your time and concern to others. He several examples such as playing cards with an elderly person in a hospital and donating some time to teach a skill at the senior center. Morrie feels that there are so many people who are in need of some compassion and if we all offer some time to give it, we will find a new respect for ourselves. He states that devoting ourselves to loving others, and to the community gives us purpose and meaning.

From what I know of Padmini and her various activities, I can honestly say that she is a giver par excellence, in the sense that Morrie intends. That however does not mean that she will give away her “things”. Just read what she has to say.
“My home is full of furniture to accommodate the once-in-a-way deluge of visitors. Some pieces I have had for many years, several I am attached to sentimentally, a few I think add class to my lifestyle and the rest I don’t know how to get rid off.
In my kitchen I have collected pressure cookers, utensils, cutlery, crockery and linen out of which only 20% are used. I have had to set up homes from scratch many times, therefore the duplication. I remain under the impression that I have given away stuff until I get into a spring cleaning mood and end up asking myself, ‘Good Heavens what am I doing with all this!’
My cupboards are full of clothes that I wear once or twice in a year. The intention is not to repeat an outfit at different occasions with the same crowd. You see, I don’t keep a record of what I wear at functions and funnily somebody commented that I wore the same sari at the wedding receptions of both my kids! Again sentiment, seasons and comfort levels dictate the presence of a garment in my closet.
My showcases are full of curios, interesting and nostalgic collections—at least to me. I guess I really don’t look at them until somebody walks in and comments on a piece. Books though tend to multiply, duplicate and occupy space thanks to my husband’s claim that he may consult them at some time or the other. The duplication occurs when it is almost impossible to locate a book when needed! Let’s just not talk about my attics, okay!
All this does not stop me from wanting, needing, longing and aspiring for things. I can blame the sales, say that I got it cheap or justify that acquisition saying that there are no second chances. It could be anything: a car, a piece of jewellery, a new sofa set, a Lazyboy, a new bathroom, floor or walls or a new place to visit.  
So, I add more and more to my being, to my existence. I want more and more for my children, for my family and for myself. I don’t know if it will stop or ever wonder if my wishes are the same as what others want for themselves.
Will I ever say enough? Yes, only at a meal will I be able to say—not any more, please. That too, just for that meal!”

On similar lines, my friend Anil had this to say in my post: “Ramana, after you have cleaned up your house, please let me know. An air ticket will be on its way for you to come and preside over some cleaning process in our house.

Over 30 years in the Army, postings to 36 new places and because of inherited genes of saving, storing and or re-cycling anything & everything we now occupy every square mm in the house.

You may require a month plus. Please help.”

It may amuse you to read my response to that cry for help!

I bet that these two outpourings ring bells in some hearts among my readers. Want to come out of the closet and share? Do feel free.

Are People The Same Everywhere?

“Pharmaceutical companies will never find the holy grail of a female Viagra — not in this culture driven and drained by middle-class values. Inhibitions are stubbornly internal. And lust is too fiery to be left to the pharmacist.”

“Well, let me tell you we have them all in our vibrant society. Only, we want to pretend they don’t exist. Which is also why our top rated soaps today celebrate rural ‘values’ and applaud child marriage along with other ‘traditional’ virtues. India is way too hypocritical to own up its own Carrie Bradshaws. But show me one local fashionista who wouldn’t want to be in her Louboutins!”

Those two concluding paragraphs are from two lady writers that I came across in one day. The first one is by Camille Paglia, from an article titled “No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class.” in the New York Times. The second one is by Shobhaa De from an article titled “Sex and our cities”, in the Indian weekly magazine The Week.

As a male, I find both these articles driving home one very important point. People are the same everywhere. Or is it only where people have been exposed to White Anglo Saxon puritanic value systems like both the USA and India have been? Apparently, before India got colonized, Indians were quite uninhibited. Missionaries who accompanied the traders first and the rulers next, appear to have influenced change to a more Victorian value system! I wonder if the same was true about the native Americans, also coincidentally called Indians!

Or, are there factors other than what these ladies write about at work?

Are there people who do not suffer from such problems anywhere in the world?

The East India Company.

The East India Company from London came to India in the year 1600. It was the forerunner of British Colonial rule over the entire Indian subcontinent, currently called South Asia.

All Indians of my generation and before learnt all about the EIC and how they were replaced by direct Crown rule as part of our history lessons. Such history has tended to get diluted subsequently and perhaps many modern students may not be even aware of the role played by the East India Company.

Earlier this year, we came to know that an Indian has bought out the East India Company and was in the process of turning it into a departmental stores.

Today, it is a vibrant organization with a clear vision of where it wants to go.

There will not be many Indians who will feel as deeply about this development as I do. I am sure that those who do, will join me in saluting Sanjiv Mehta.

Conrad, another hero that I wish had been me!

Corporate Attitude In India.

I recently read a book called The India Way which made me regret that I am no longer part of the very exciting Indian business scene. Many things that Professional Managers of my generation longed for could not materialize due the stifling anti business Socialism atmosphere that existed then. A lot of water has flown down the Ganges since then and this book makes all Indians proud and particularly so, people like me.

There is a chapter that addresses how Indian businessmen are actually addressing what is important for them and I quote from the linked website – “Looking beyond stockholders’ interests to public mission and national purpose.”

This post is inspired by an article that appeared in a leading Indian Economics and Business news paper, the Economic Times, which talks about what one of our first generation entrepreneurs, Sunil Mittal is doing in the field of rural education. What vision and what commitment!

Similarly, Shiv Nadar another first generation entrepreneur has done something breathtaking. Once again focusing on rural education in India. This article in the Economic Times does not do justice to the man for what his company is doing for its employees. That is part of the book The India Way.

This article led me to reminisce about some other Indian business barons who show the same commitment to “Looking beyond stockholders’ interests to public mission and national purpose.” I have already written about Ratan Tata and the Tata group’s attitude.

I would like to introduce my readers to another low key tycoon who is spearheading multi level social work in many parts of the country, notable one of which is again in the field of education. That is Azim Premji.

There are many other such stories about Indian business persons and their contribution to the gigantic task of taking prosperity to the underprivileged in India and, as and when I come across some notable ones, I shall post about them. It is the least that I can do for people that I admire for doing what they do.

Similarly, fellow blogger Conrad’s, post “I toast the un-holiday for mundane heroes.” had a great impact on me. That post has given me an idea for some other posts on mundane heroes, some of whom have already featured in my posts. I hope that Conrad will inspire me further with similar posts. I urge my readers to read Conrad’s post.

The Inessential Belongings That We Collect

“We happily accumulate possessions and happily give them away. It is only possessing them that gives no happiness.”
– Robert Brault.

It is one more coincidence that this topic has been suggested at this time. For the past ten days or so, my home has been undergoing a cleaning up process, which is not yet complete.

I was full time cook and dishwasher for three days, which started the process of discarding useless stuff. There were unused vessels, utensils, containers, scrubbers, ladles and so on and I had a merry time throwing them all away and cleaning up the kitchen to a functional, and simple place to work in. As I write this, the kitchen is minus some vessels, bins and utensils that should total to about 50 Kgs.

This led to the investigation of various other stored stuff and all those are also in the process of being sent for recycling or donated to someone who can use them.

The next in line will be some of my books which have to go to make room for new ones that seem to appear at regular intervals. Finally, the last ones that will have to go and which will give me much regret will be my suits and other formal clothes that I have not worn for the past three years.

In this process, I have understood that, what Magpie calls the inessential things in our life, seem to take up more space in my life than essentials. Robert Brault’s quote at the beginning of this post is apt indeed.

Henceforth, I am determined that for any thing new to come in, something else has to go out. I think that it is the only way to keep the home clutter free and easy to maintain.

I hope that you enjoyed reading another post of the Friday Loose Bloggers’ Consortium when eleven of us post on the same topic chosen by one of us. Today’s topic has been chosen by Magpie.

Please do visit Ashok, Conrad, Grannymar, Magpie11, Maria, Gaelikaa, Helen, Judy, Anu and Ginger to see ten other views on the same topic. Some of these bloggers may be preoccupied with vacations, examinations, family problems and/or romance, so be a little indulgent in case they do not post or post late.