Advantage Of Being In Debt.

Readers will remember my posts about my friend’s problems with his credit card. A reader impressed by the posts, sent me the following story by email.

Ramesh and Sumathi were on a cruise holliday to celebrate their ten years of wedded bliss.

In a sudden storm, their liner ran aground in the night and in the morning the Captain advised the passengers that, he was sorry to report that, although the ship had run aground on an island, the island was itself not on any map and it was unlikely that they will be found by anyone. He was unable to send any messages as the electrical and radio equipments were all damaged beyond repair in the wreck.

Ramesh turned to Sumathi and asked her “Did you send the check to XYZ Bank for the monthly credit card payments?” Sumathi – “Sorry, I forgot.” Ramesh, “And the check for the house loan monthly payment?” Sumathi, sorry, in the hurry to pack and leave, I forgot that too”. How about the car loan, he asked and got the same reply.

Ramesh heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Not to worry. They will find us.”

Divorce Customs, Ancient and Not-So-Ancient; Delanceyplace

I subscribe to a daily email service from delanceyplace that sends interesting extracts from books and publications. For those who are interested in such excerpts, I strongly recommend that they visit the site and register themselves to receive the same.

Just to give you a taste for some of the things that you can expect, here is what I received today, which is quite amusing and interesting at the same time.

In today’s excerpt–divorce customs, ancient and not-so-ancient:

“For nearly a thousand years, an Englishman sick of his wife could slip a halter around her neck, lead her to market–the cattle market–and sell her to the highest bidder, often with her willing participation. This informal route to divorce for the lower classes lasted, amazingly, until at least 1887. … [As reported by non-fiction authors Lawrence Stone in The Family, Sex, and Marriage and Samuel Menefee in Wives for Sale], a drunken husband sells his wife in the opening chapter of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), much to the astonishment of contemporary critics. Oblivious to the informal, unlawful marriage and divorce customs of the less literate brethren (‘wife-sale’ dates back to c. 1073), they could not imagine such a thing happening on British soil in the nineteenth century, even though popular broadsides depicting the practice (one of which illustrates the cover of Menefee’s book) were still being produced and widely circulated during that same century. …

“[In the Old Testament, the law allowed for divorce because of infertility, and] Israelite men could divorce their wives for reasons far more vague than infertility. (Wives couldn’t divorce their husbands for any reason.) If, for instance, ‘she fails to please him because he finds something obnoxious about her,’ there’s no need to hire a pricey lawyer. He simply ‘writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house.’ He’d better be sure this is what he wants, because he can’t have her back again. …

“The Bible, leaving nothing to chance, provides soldiers with a lesson on the fine art of taking enemy women to wife after the enemy has been vanquished. … You don’t just throw her to the ground and have your way with her then and there. You don’t throw her on the ground at all. And you don’t have your way with her for an entire month. No, ‘you shall bring her into your house, and she shall trim her hair, pare her nails, and discard her captive’s garb. She shall spend a month’s time in your house lamenting her father and mother; after that you may come to her and possess her, and she shall be your wife.’ The lesson includes instruction on how to get rid of her, too. No bill of divorcement is required, but restrictions do apply: ‘Then, should you no longer want her, you must release her outright. You must not sell er for money; since you had your will of her, you must not enslave her.’ ”

Susan Squire, I Don’t: A Contrarian History of
Marriage, Bloomsbury, Copyright 2008 by Susan
Squire, pp. 36-44, 227.

Topics discussed in families.

A cousin of mine came to visit me a couple of days ago. He spent just a few hours with me, but they were intense for the range of topics that we covered.

There is only five years difference in age between us and we have always been quite close to each other due to various circumstances that kept throwing opportunities to be with each other at us throughout our life.

I was loath to see him leave as there was so much more to talk and reminisce about. I suppose that this is what happens when people close to you are physically far away from you and your meetings with them are all too infrequent.

Two topics that we discussed were interesting for their application to many people in similar circumstances.

My cousin is childless due to some medical reasons. He and his brother have lived in a joint family and his brother’s children were all the time around for him to be exposed to the joys of children growing up. Added to that, he has a sister living close by whose children also used to be around quite frequently and so the numbers were also quite substantial.

Now, all the children are grown up and some have children of their own. His brother is quite busy with his grand children whereas, with the joint family having split up recently, with each sibling moving into individual homes, this particular cousin is left with his wife in an independent home. He recently had a stroke and that has also had an effect on his psyche. My brother who is a neighbor for him also is quite busy with a grand child and I am not yet blessed with one.

This common absence of grandchildren as well as his childlessness has caused a lot of commentary within our family circles. This was the topic that took up quite a bit of our time to get both of us in a humorous mood to learn about all the comments made by various others and the theories that are going around about what will be mentioned in our wills! Both of us had a good laugh at such minor matters getting such major attention.

What a topic to discuss about! I suppose that all families go through such discussions when nothing else interesting takes place. Do you have access to such information if the bulk of your family lives far away from where you live? How do you react to such discussions?

Driving on Indian Roads. An expert’s advise.

I am taking a break from posting on Customer Service to bring in a bit of humor and to host a guest post from a dear friend who is one of the few witnesses to my having gone to post graduate level of education!

This post is by Vashudev Dayalani who lives in Mumbai.  He has travelled the world extensively and has seen the driving habits of other nationalities, but has a particular soft corner for Indian drivers and conditions, as can readily be made out from his post. I have a great deal of admiration for his resilience and hope to post more of his articles on his personal life.

For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry (not Potter) visiting India and daring to drive on Indian Roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India, except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer.

On roads, rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to God and your Insurance Company. The hints are as follows:

Do you drive to the left or right of the road? The answer is ‘both’. Basically you start on the left of the road unless it’s occupied. In that case go to the right unless that’s also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction and proceed.

Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don’t drive, but aim their vehicle in the intended direction. Don’t you get discouraged or underestimate yourself. Except for a belief in re-incarnation, the other drivers are not in any better position.

Don’t stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back. Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross when traffic is moving slowly or had come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across but then, lets not talk ill of the dead.

Sounding your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. Honk to express joy, resentment, frustration, and romance or just to mobilize a dozing cow or a dog in the middle of the road/bazaar.

Keep information books in glove compartment. You may read them in traffic while awaiting the Chief Minister/Prime Minister/President’s motorcade or waiting for the rainwater to recede when over ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Night driving on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience with the mental make up of Genghis Khan. In a way, its like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon, turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On countering it, pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes. The roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not flash your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack he has had at lost stop, his total cerebral functions add up to little more than naught.

Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single beam of light about five/six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously. Of course all this occurs at night on the trunk roads. During the day time trucks are more visible, except that the driver will never show any signal. And you must watch for the absent signal. They are a greater threat. Only you will observe that the cleaner/driver’s companion, who sits next to the driver, will project his hand and wave hysterically. This is definitely not to be construed as a signal for left or right. The waving is just an expression of physical relief on a hot day.

Occasionally, you might see what looks like an UFO with blinking colored lights and sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus full of happy pilgrims singing ‘bhajans’. These pilgrims go at break neck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty and often meeting with success.

Mopeds – The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped riders tend to drive in the middle of the road – they would rather drive under the heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often ‘mopped’ off the tarmac.

Leaning Towers of Pisas:  Most bus passengers travel free and during rush hours there is absolute mayhem (hell, chaos). There are passengers hanging off other passengers who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded buses lean dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid to overload (so many rupees per kg. of passenger), no questions are asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.

One way- Street:  These boards are put up by the traffic police to bring some humor into their otherwise drab lives. Don’t stick to the literal meaning and proceed in any direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two directions at one time. So drive, as you like, reverse whenever you feel like, if you are the fussy type.

Lest I sound hypercritical, I must add a positive point also. Providing ‘speed breakers’ – two for each house, has prevented fast driving in residential areas. These are in addition to water and drainage pipes for that residence, that is left untarred for easy identification by the Municipal Corporation authorities, should they want to recover the pipes for year-end accounting.

If after all this, you will want to drive in India, take your lessons between 8.00 p.m. and 11.00 a.m. when the police have gone home. The citizen is then free to enjoy the freedom of speed enshrined in the Constitution.

Driving on Indian Roads. An expert’s advise.

I am taking a break from posting on Customer Service to bring in a bit of humor and to host a guest post from a dear friend who is one of the few witnesses to my having gone to post graduate level of education!

This post is by Vashudev Dayalani who lives in Mumbai.  He has travelled the world extensively and has seen the driving habits of other nationalities, but has a particular soft corner for Indian drivers and conditions, as can readily be made out from his post. I have a great deal of admiration for his resilience and hope to post more of his articles on his personal life.

For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry (not Potter) visiting India and daring to drive on Indian Roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India, except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer.

On roads, rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to God and your Insurance Company. The hints are as follows:

Do you drive to the left or right of the road? The answer is ‘both’. Basically you start on the left of the road unless it’s occupied. In that case go to the right unless that’s also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction and proceed.

Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don’t drive, but aim their vehicle in the intended direction. Don’t you get discouraged or underestimate yourself. Except for a belief in re-incarnation, the other drivers are not in any better position.

Don’t stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back. Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross when traffic is moving slowly or had come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across but then, lets not talk ill of the dead.

Sounding your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. Honk to express joy, resentment, frustration, and romance or just to mobilize a dozing cow or a dog in the middle of the road/bazaar.

Keep information books in glove compartment. You may read them in traffic while awaiting the Chief Minister/Prime Minister/President’s motorcade or waiting for the rainwater to recede when over ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Night driving on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience with the mental make up of Genghis Khan. In a way, its like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon, turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On countering it, pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes. The roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not flash your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack he has had at lost stop, his total cerebral functions add up to little more than naught.

Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single beam of light about five/six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously. Of course all this occurs at night on the trunk roads. During the day time trucks are more visible, except that the driver will never show any signal. And you must watch for the absent signal. They are a greater threat. Only you will observe that the cleaner/driver’s companion, who sits next to the driver, will project his hand and wave hysterically. This is definitely not to be construed as a signal for left or right. The waving is just an expression of physical relief on a hot day.

Occasionally, you might see what looks like an UFO with blinking colored lights and sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus full of happy pilgrims singing ‘bhajans’. These pilgrims go at break neck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty and often meeting with success.

Mopeds – The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped riders tend to drive in the middle of the road – they would rather drive under the heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often ‘mopped’ off the tarmac.

Leaning Towers of Pisas:  Most bus passengers travel free and during rush hours there is absolute mayhem (hell, chaos). There are passengers hanging off other passengers who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded buses lean dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid to overload (so many rupees per kg. of passenger), no questions are asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.

One way- Street:  These boards are put up by the traffic police to bring some humor into their otherwise drab lives. Don’t stick to the literal meaning and proceed in any direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two directions at one time. So drive, as you like, reverse whenever you feel like, if you are the fussy type.

Lest I sound hypercritical, I must add a positive point also. Providing ‘speed breakers’ – two for each house, has prevented fast driving in residential areas. These are in addition to water and drainage pipes for that residence, that is left untarred for easy identification by the Municipal Corporation authorities, should they want to recover the pipes for year-end accounting.

If after all this, you will want to drive in India, take your lessons between 8.00 p.m. and 11.00 a.m. when the police have gone home. The citizen is then free to enjoy the freedom of speed enshrined in the Constitution.

The Japanese and IIT Patna, Bihar.

A newspaper report this morning says that the Japanese have regretted their inability to collaborate with the Indian Institutes of Technology to set up an Institute in Bihar. They are however prepared to collaborate with the Indians for one at Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

While the reason given has been that they are concerned about the poor law and order situation in Bihar, it is suspected that the real reason is their experience with Bihar in the past.

Some years ago, when Sri. Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Chief Minister of Bihar; a Japanese team had visited Bihar to study possible areas for business and educational tie-ups. After their visit, they had suggested to Sri Lalu Prasad Yadav that if they could be given six months time to rule Bihar, they could turn Bihar into another Japan. Sri Yadav told them in no uncertain terms that the proposal was ridiculous as if he was given just six days to rule Japan, he can turn Japan into another Bihar.