Gratitude List March 31, 2012.

Saturday, I continued with my meetings and all of them went off well. On return at home, Ranjan informed me that my father had arranged for a plumber and that Ranjan paid the bills. On enquiring my father said that Ranjan had called the plumber and not he, but said that he was satisfied with the work done and wanted some more to be done. This was most puzzling but I could not find out more details as Ranjan had gone off by the time I got around to figuring out what had happened. Anyway, some plumbing problem in my father’s bathroom was attended to.

On Sunday too I went off to my meetings but returned home in time for the afternoon tea. Nothing exciting had happened in my absence, but the mystery of the plumber was solved. The door bell rang, Ranjan opened the door to find a plumber saying that he had been called. Since I was not at home, Ranjan asked my father if he wanted a plumber’s services and the latter promptly said yes and got him to do some work that had been pending for some time. Each thought that the other had called the plumber. It turned out that the plumber was sent for by our neighbour who got quite upset when the appointment was not kept. I am grateful that a decent plumber known to my neighbour had done this and nothing untoward happened.

Monday passed off peacefully without any significant happening. I was able to go for a long walk and shop for idly dough, tender coconut water and fruits. On the way out, I was collared by Sunil and Meeta to share a cup of tea with them which was a nice break. I made a new friend Ramanathan, at the park who came over home to borrow some Tamil magazines that I subscribe to for my father. My father was thrilled to talk to him in Tamil and that was a pleasant interlude to observe.

Mangal played truant on Tuesday, which incidentally in Marathi is called Mangalwar. I had to do kitchen duty again but managed to do a satisfactory enough job for my Ranjan’s taste. Late in the afternoon Jay made a quick visit and threatened to take me with him as his translator to visit a Nadi Jothish. I was not particularly enthusiastic about the consultation, but agreed to go with him to translate for him. Late in the evening, Shalinitai about who I had written last week, rang me up to thank me for the write up about her. Neena who is a regular reader of my blog posts read it out to her and apparently, both were quite thrilled to see them featured thus.

Cooked up a steam as Mangal was still away on Wednesday and it was much appreciated. Even I liked my own output! My friend from the park, found his way home in the forenoon and had tea with me. Another Tamil speaking man, my father was delighted. Jay would not let me have my siesta and dragged me off to the astrologer. This was my first time ever and a grand experience it was to sit through the Tamil readings and tranlating into English for Jay. Jay was very pleased and most grateful for my assistance. I have warned him that one day I will ask him to square up accounts.

Mangal continued to be away and so I was on kitchen duty again. My father simply refuses to eat any food not cooked at home since his tryst with the upset stomach. So, I made enough for the three of us and some to spare. I sent off one box each to Vimlu and Husena and it reached them at the exact time when they were sitting down for lunch. In the evening at the park, I was complimented and now I am in trouble with my other friends who want me to cook the same and send them too. While all these shenanigans were going on, one long standing problem with a difficult customer got resolved to the satisfaction of everyone concerned. Phew. I was able to help Manjunath with some material sourcing and I think that it would be of great help to him in the future.

It was also on Thursday that I got some fantastic news. Vinod, son of my childhood friends Rajam and Ambi had been appointed the new Scientific Director of the MIRA Research Institute at the University of Twente. His appointment by the Executive Board comes into effect from 1 May 2012. Vinod is currently Professor at the University of Twente’s Nanobiophysics Group, a position he will combine with his new post as Scientific Director of MIRA. What a lad!

Friday saw me on kitchen duty again, but all went off well. I was able to book two large orders to end the financial year much to the satisfaction of my principals.


Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where twelve of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by me. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Effectiveness is defined by The Business Dictionary, as “the degree to which objectives are achieved and the extent to which targeted problems are solved. In contrast to efficiency, effectiveness is determined without reference to costs and, whereas efficiency means “doing the thing right,” effectiveness means “doing the right thing.”

The reason I chose this topic was the strong suspicion that I was being very efficient in my care giving activities but not effective. This kept bugging me and I decided to bare my soul to an amateur psychologist friend, to find out why this was happening.

On analysis it turned out that to be effective in any situation there must be feed back. In other normal activities, the feed back is an ongoing process and one can modify one’s actions to ensure that the outcome is what is desired. In this instance, the lacuna was the absence of any kind of feed back. Positive or negative.

We probed further and came to this epiphany as it were.

There can always be effectiveness or efficiency in relationships but never good or bad relationships.

We concluded that there is either a relationship or there is none. There cannot be a good one or a bad one. People in the so called bad relationships, having opted to continue that, for whatever reason, are simply in an ineffective relationship though all actions within that relationship can be efficient.

AND we decided that such a relationship should be called a Mechanical Relationship.

At this point, I raised the objection that there could be situations where the lack of feedback could be due to an inability due to illness in the care receiver, to provide such feed back. My friend readily accepted this is a valid objection and suggested that we call such a relationship as a spiritual one.

I could not agree more.

It still leaves my original problem unsolved.

The Iron Man.

No, I am not talking about Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. I have been given the title by a friend. Read on.

A couple of weeks ago, I had gone to the park wearing my black Hush Puppies sandals. Vimlu asked how come they were so shiny and I preened and said that I had polished them myself. She immediately recollected the stories told to her my late mother as well as Urmeela about how I ironed clothes before wearing them even though they might have just come from the laundry and also how I would polish my shoes.

There was another friend Mahesh who had accompanied me to the park that day and he was listening to this story. On the way back, he ribbed me about the ironing of clothes to remove the folding creases.

He returned to the USA and has just sent me this to describe me.

The Disconnect.

Please bear with me. This map is important for this post.

I recently had an occasion to hire an autorickshaw from Swargate, Pune’s Interstate and Intrastate bus terminus. When I announced my destination, Kalyani Nagar, the driver hesitated and said that he was not familiar with that locality and whether I would be able to guide him. I assured him that I could and off we set to Kalyani Nagar with me as the navigator.

I could not resist the temptation to find out more about the young lad, and asked him where he was from. This is something that I normally do with Hindi speaking folks in Pune to keep tabs on the immigration of non Maharashtrians into Pune. When he answered that he was from Hadapsar, I was taken aback and switched to Marathi, the local language much to his delight. I asked him why he was unfamiliar with Kalyani Nagar, if he was from Hadapsar, as the latter is another suburb of Pune just like the former is. His answer and my subsequent chat with him made me rediscover some parts of our enigmatic country.

Before I take you on that fascinating story, let me acquaint you with Pune. That is the purpose of the map on top.

The old Pune which we call the city, consists of the area smack dab in the middle of the map. Kalyani Nagar is to the North East and Hadapsar is to the South East and they are separated from each other by the Mula Mutha river. As the crow flies, the siatance is unlikely to be more than six kilometers. By road, using any of the many bridges that span the river, it could go up to twelve kilometers. Hadapar abuts the Pune Sholapur National Highway and Kalyani Nagar, the Pune Ahmednagar Highway. When I first moved to Pune, I worked at Hadapsar and am quite familiar with that suburb. It was and continues to be a nodal point for surrounding farm areas and acts as a whole sale vegetable and grain market.

Like all cities in India, Pune has grown suddenly into a sprawling metropolis. Many outlying villages have been merged into the Pune municipal corporation and many more are on line to become so. What this has done to agricultural land is to push up prices and many farmers have simply sold their land and moved to the city to live off the proceeds or take up some less taxing occupation.

My young friend is from a hamlet about six kilometers off Hadapsar and comes from such a farmer’s family. His younger brother is still farming a bit but his parents and he have moved to the city and he has got himself an autorickshaw to make a living, His adventures with acquiring the permit for the rickshaw and the driving license will take all of another long post. He did not acquier his high school diploma as he was simply not good at studies. He did go to a school at Hadapsar however.

Most significant observation that he made about his ignorance of Pune’s topography was that in all his 25 years, he had gone beyond Hadapsar only on a very few occasions, once to the temple town of Alandi ten kilometers North of Kalyani Nagar and once to Padharpur, about a 150 Kms South East of Hadapsar on pilgrimage. He had visited only one land mark in Pune before he acquired the rickshaw and he was only familiar with that area between Hadapsar and Swargate.

When probed further, he further stated that there were many others in his hamlet and other hamlets near by who have not gone beyond Hadapsar. Ever!

And that is the paradox. Just under ten kilometers from all that a city can offer and most villagers have not experienced even some of the attractions! What a disconnect! Not one from the villager’s point of view but the city dweller’s ideas about such people. The city dwellers are perhaps not even aware that this can happen.


Delirious has an interesting post “The Trials Of Being An Only Child” in her blog.

My son Ranjan is an only child, and to the best of my recollection he has never had a ‘No’ for an answer from his parents, ever. He was and is clever enough to ask for only those things for which he would not get a ‘No’ for an answer.

The issue that I wish to address however is not whether he should have got some ‘No’s. It is too late to worry about that now.

The story that Delirious conveys brings to mind a story that my Guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati, uses to highlight the value of values. I relate the story in a much abridged form.

A childless couple adopt a street urchin who they regularly see near their home eating whatever he can scavenge from the thrown away packets and the waste bins. They clean him up, and arrange for him to go to school and the mother becomes very fond of the child and teaches him about his new station in life and how he should behave.

Every day, the child would get dressed in the school uniform and go to the near by school and just before leaving the house, the mother would give him a chocolate to have some time during the day. It once so happens that on the way to the school itself, the child unwraps the chocolate to eat and the nice bar falls on the road.

At this point, Swamiji would pause and ask the audience as to what the child would do. The answers would inevitably be either that the changed circumstances would make the child to ignore the fallen chocolate, or that he would pick it up, dust it up a bit and eat it. Swamiji would say that the most possible scenario would be that the child will first look around to see if any one was observing and then would pick up the chocolate to eat or not depending on the situation. He would add that if the situation permitted, the child would pick up the chocolate and perhaps as a concession to its current status and knowledge, instead of eating the bar, would first dust it before biting into it.

The point is that the child’s values have changed, but not its desires. Then of course, Swamiji would proceed to elaborate, which is not the thrust of this post.

Indian English.

My loyal reader and commentator Cynthia, had this to say on my sister Padmini’s wall on FaceBook.

“Since you use perfect English, not your native language, I’ll use proper grammar. More FORMALLY like an Englishman & INDIAN garb, instead of what I typed. :)”

Cythia, I appreciate it so much that I want to share with you what my brother Arvind had put up on his wall on FB. This is am announcement of a wedding at the venue of the function.