Monday, February 05, 2007

All It Takes

The good news is that now I have a comp at home. The bad news is that it doesn’t have the Net. Never mind- that should change soon.

I had approached a famous ISP for a broadband connection sometime back. After the initial calls they sent across someone to do the wiring, but finding the house locked those guys went back.

I managed to grab the sales guy again yesterday, and fired the shit out of him. When I was done, the guy first apologized for disappearing and said that it was in his interest to close this out since for every connection he closes he gets paid 175 rupees. 175 rupees??? Am I hearing right? Isn’t this circa 2007? Aren’t our minds and living rooms invaded with Technicolor projections of an Incredible India (or India Shining, or Rising India- depending on whose colours you wear)! And most importantly, isn’t this Bombay, and not some back of the beyond, mofussil town?

Yes, it was repeated, and I had heard it right. Immediately, I lowered my pitch, and remembered how enthusiastic the guy had been when he first came with the papers to my office, did the feasibility and all that- and how many calls he had made to me. All for 175 rupees? I didn’t know how to react- perhaps I should feel a little small admonishing him the way I had. But then wasn’t he in the wrong?

By the evening I had partly redeemed myself. When I narrated this incident to D, she wanted a connection as well. When I called to tell him so, I couldn’t believe how happy he sounded.

Later at night as D and I sat watching TV, feeling a little domesticated, and munched on our chicken rolls, I began to think how narrow our view of this world is. I recalled a recent post I had written some time back on the amazing things happening in India, on how steep forward income curves are and how everyone can takes loans for 10 years and repay them in 3. At that time my boss (a man of little hair, but lot of wisdom) shook his head and commented how little I knew of this world.

I remembered the absolute joy on the face of a juice seller in the night market in a remote Thailand village when we consumed juices worth 200 Baht in minutes. How they scurried to arrange plates for us, when there were none- it being a place where people just buy food from stalls and take it home to eat.

I remembered how affected my father was when he came back from the Valley after seeing what abject poverty the average Kashmiri lives in.

We live in a world where economic disparity is unimaginable. There are millions who live under the shroud of looming hunger, malnutrition and death. Basic amenities do not exist. If rural poverty is alarming their urban counterparts are no better off. Even in a place like Bombay every morning I pass by a bunch of kids who collect water from puddles outside of Haji Ali. And I see countless kids on their way to school walking bare feet.

Sometime back I tried reading the World Poverty Report form UNDP. I just couldn’t. I agree that unless we eradicate poverty, we will not be able to counter the scourge of terrorism, AIDS and so many other things.

Yet I realized one thing- while we can be philanthropic and all that and wait for the world to be a better place for everyone, for the time being we can make a difference in our little ways, mostly by being nice to people who live such difficult lives. And in return make that rare smile make our day.


dazedandconfused said...

T.O., I am not the type to recommend anything to anybody, but if you haven't yet, you could check out Jeffery D Sachs' book, 'The End of Povery'. It talks solutions, though not at a you-and-me level.

The One said...

D&C: I am flawed. I just blog. It is for men (or women) of action to do something...

shikha said...

The was good that you called up the other day...

reading in here was a real pleasure...!!!!

I must say..that your writing has improved(though am no authority) from ggod to very good!!!

shuchika said...

nice one,

bhai kahan ho aajkal?

Anonymous said...

How comfortable it is for us to be armchair activists, to write words of sympathy (condescention, at times), to 'humblly' say publicly that we are flawed and that being a part of the solution is not our solution and all this while remain cosy in our comfort zones, in our 'domesticated' lives.

The One said...

Shikha: Nice talking to you... Hope signal was nice.

Shuchika: The best thing about me is that main kahin bhi nahi jata hoon.