Friday, October 29, 2004

barber and haircut!!!

Its been a while since a barber has touched my hair. In past 2 years, I have visited a saloon only once!!

No, no.. I am not planning to act in Aamir Khan's 'Sun- The Rising'.

After we (Sunil, Naren, Deep, me) came to Clemson, we realized that cutting hair outside every 20 days would be a very expensive affair ($12 for a haircut??.. nah....$12 x 50.....600 Rupees... mad or what!!!... was our first reaction..eddam desi eshtyle). So we thought of trying it out at home. First few haircuts were a disaster (invariably we would wear a cap for next 15 days... our apartment had around 10 caps at one point... as everyone would need one) but slowly we improved ourselves. Apart from a few hiccups:

One fine day Naren messed up Deep’s haircut with a huge patch at a very inconvenient spot. After that Deep hasn’t yet dared to try it out again. He prefers a professional barber instead. On another fine day, I by mistake created a dent on Sunil's head and for a month he was a bald headed gentleman.

Apart from that its been a smooth and fairly exciting experience. After Naren moved out, it was just Sunil and me who would cut each others' (upper) hair. I guess we have become fairly professional barbers now... and reliable too. It’s been one memorable experience, and one more very useful thing I learnt in life after coming to Clemson. Sunil is any day better than a professional barber.

The reason I remembered all this: I badly needed a haircut a couple of weeks back. I finally decided to go to a barber as sunil was busy with his thesis defense and I didn’t want him to spend his time cutting hair. So, I went and I almost entered the barber shop...

Man, I was shit scared to let someone else cut my hair. I came out of that shop almost running.

I am going for a conference in LA, California in couple of weeks and I DONT want to be bald at the conference. I am used to give instructions in hindi... and cant simply imagine telling an american "cut short from sides, shorter from backside and slightly long on upper head... i want slope also"... what if he doesn’t understand what exactly I want??... and what if I dont get a satisfactory haircut?? ..."slightly short on this spot....and this much here... and that much there"... nah.

Finally requested Sunil to take some time out, and thankfully he obliged.

I dont know how long I can avoid a barber... as we are unlikely to be in Clemson for too long now... but I will be extremely scared when I enter the barber's shop next time... whenever that happens.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

About changing yourself and the world

"you must be the change if you want to change the world".... its not as easy as it sounds. We had one Gandhi... who tried to change the world by this principles... he changed himself and then asked people to follow him. He was great... Alas, he was killed for his own principles. United States had one Martin Luther King... he also mate same fate.

Take India or US or for that matter any place... things are going worse. For todays hip-hop and party generation, you are a fool if youare principlistic. In today's world; Gandhi, and MLK would have been thrown in mental asylum. Today's world is of Laloo, Bangaroo, Dawood, and Mallika. How can you even think of changing this world?

Forget about India as a whole... take examples in our family,community and neighborhood. We have so many individuals, whom we respect immensely, because they always followed an idealistic approach. They say " we should do this.. and we should do that...". We look forward for their guidance. We hope that they can bring the difference in our society. But these same individuals have ridiculously spoilt kids... they are hopeless, they don't even know how to live a respectable life, they don't even know their own culture, they are completely out of control. If you can't bring the change in your own family, how can you even think of changing this world?.

Forget about changing the world... its not easy even to change yourself. Its extremely difficult to stick to your principles, especially when we are living in a materialistic world.

Today's world is all about money, name, fame and party. People party 4days a week. Do they even have time to think about those so called 'principles' and 'change one has to bring within him/herself' ??. Love, dignity, faith, trust, commitment, relationship.... all are materialistic gains. I have seen closest and best of people changing for money and these so called materialistic gains. How can you change yourself, if you are living in such surroundings?

I am not being negative here., as I know there are people who are different. I myself beg to differ from today's 'chalta hai' attitude. I just wanted to put forth a point that its not easy to change yourself and to change this world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

We Indians

These are my personal views about the article in Economic Times (the article is pasted at the end of my views):

1: Some examples cited in the Economic Times article are very true (ladies entering the swimming pool in saree and people hogging on the freebreakfast, etc.). It ridiculous to see someone of your own country behaving in an obnoxious way, and thus tarnishing his own as well as his country's reputation.

2: I also agree that a lot of Americans, Chinese and African Americans are worse than us when it comes to running behind free stuff.

Having considered these two points, one, however, CANNOT justify their irresponsible public behavior. If a certain thing is wrong then it IS wrong. Hogging on a free breakfast is NOT justified just because some American also does it. One has to remember that you are always representing something: be it your country, community, company or your family. One has to always behave him/herself, because your behavior determines the reputation of the entity your are representing. This this even more significant for a developing country like India, which is still trying to find a prominent position in world affairs.

One simple example: After coming to US, a lot of people complain that 'south Indians badly smell of food'. It does not mean that EACH AND EVERY south Indian smells of sambar and rassam. But a few DO. And those few people tarnish the reputation of entire community.Americans, Europeans do not differentiate between a south Indian and north Indian. For them, Indians smell of food. Thus, only a few individuals are good enough to make people believe that Indians smell bad, which, as a matter of fact, is not completely true.

Even Chinese small badly of food. But that doesn't mean that our south Indian brothers are doing well by doing free publicity of our Indian delicacy.

When I read the article, I took it positively... with a message that one has to behave himself and try to be an ideal ambassador for our India. I agree that one single individual cannot change the things....But he can always try from his side, can't he?

Original Article:


In a resort, the world is somewhat easier to place. The Japanese see others through a Japanese handycam. The Americans pretend to be friendlier than their president. The French flirt with your wife if she is not British. The Ukrainian will not mind indecent behaviour, for a fee. People from all nations steal the bathrobe. And the Indian? The country's hospitality industry lets out a sigh and flight attendants roll their eyes.

There are unpleasant memories. The middle-class Indian is travelling to the upper reaches of good life and he is feared today by all in the business of standing with folded palms and salaried smiles.

He screams at the hotel staff to secretly ensure good service. He mistakes the waiter for his domestic help back home. He tries to eat everything in the breakfast buffet, because it is obviously profitable that way. His wife is in the pool in a saree, mixing water sports with modesty. And his we-two-ours-two kids are all over the place.

"The new Indian traveller wants attention, he wants slavish respect, he wants to own the place, he wants to swim in the pool in his VIP underwear," says Poonam Sethi, Radisson Hotel's director of sales and marketing. On international flights, he asks for "souvenirs", washes his hands in the plate and snaps his fingers to call the stewardess. "One guy even tried to open the aircraft door thinking it is the toilet," according to a flight attendant.

Cabin crews of international airlines that fly to India are specially briefed about the Indian. "The flight is going to be demanding," is what an air hostess is told by her chief during Cathay Pacific's pre-departure briefings on the Hong Kong-Mumbai flight. "We are clearly asked to be generous with liquor because Indians would want to drink a lot when it is free. If an average international passenger has two drinks during a flight, Indians have four."In her eight-year career, she has seen Indians make bhel from onions and other things brought from home, bathe and smoke in the toilet, and hide under a blanket to flout the seat-belt rule. One man even asked her, 'where is your urinification room?'

"Indians are so feared by the cabin crew that the highest number of sick leaves happen just before the Hong Kong-Mumbai flight," she said. Rupert Bray, the country manager for India, Nepal and Bangladesh was not available to confirm this phenomenon.Part of the high-end leisure industry's grouse against Indians finds its genesis in selfish commercial interests. A suave white man at the breakfast buffet, who does not raid all varieties of food, is more profitable than the experimental Indians. Tips influence the world view of waiters greatly. But even the hotels who claim to suffer the onslaught of the middle-class Indian, admit that he is precious during the lean periods.

Rattan Keswani, senior vice president, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, does not sympathise with the grievances of high-end resorts. "If you offer those prices, those people will come," he says. "You can't make money out of them and regret having them at the same time." According to him, "the Indian business traveller is a very mature individual and so the Oberoi in Mumbai for example, has no trouble dealing with him at all."Mr Keswani's views are not shared by all.

For several Indian resorts, sales meetings are treacherous confluences where the middle-class Indian male arrives at a wonderland called 5-star, leaving his regulatory wife at home.During such conclaves in Rajasthan, resorts are wary of men from Delhi. "Even during lean periods we try our best not to take conferences from Delhi," an executive of a high-end hotel chain says. "The men are rude and leery towards the female staff. They are insufferable," he adds.During the monsoons in Goa, it pours Indians. Sales, marketing and, of course, HR conferences spill over all facets of high-end resorts. And Scot Adams' men come to life. A photographer, who used to run a boutique in Goa, remembers a sight in a Panjim resort. "These guys were by the pool but didn't know how to swim. So, they brought buckets from their rooms, filled the pool water in the buckets and poured it on themselves," she said.

An Indonesian girl hired by a Goan resort to perform Balinese massage is tired of middle-aged Indians who want, "sex massage". Her understanding employer has told her that if a customer uses the word 'sex' a particular number of times, she could walk out of the room. The chef in the same hotel explains: "When the off-season comes, our boss comes around and tells the workers: Gentlemen, the season has changed. The foreigners are gone and the Indians have landed."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How to mess up your nite

I came home at 1AM, and realized that I didn’t have any clothes for tomorrow. So decided to do laundry. Logically speaking, it should have been over by 3 AM, which was fine for me.

(I have shifted to Lemans recently, and I had no idea about the laundry machines there. They look innocuous, so I thought they would be similar to ones in Village Green. I had also asked my friends in Lemans.. they were happy with it and said that... $1.25 for washing, and $1.00 for drying would be sufficient. Still, as a precaution, I took quarters for 6 dollars. Now read on...)

1AM: went for laundry.... realized that the washer was too small for all clothes to fit in. So used two washers. Which means I used 5 quarters more for washing... little worried if I had sufficient quarters...Came back to my apt. and talked to Sagar for a while about life in Lemans.

1.45 AM: went to check if washing was done. Saw that all the foam was still intact, and unwashed. Put some more coins.... again a long wait of 40 mins... Went to Nikhil Rane's place... Talked with him for a while about free food at harcombe.

2.30AM: washing was finally over. I had only 4 quarters left. I am little worried... but dryer seems to be good.

3.05 AM: went to check if clothes were dry... and realized that they were still wet, not even close to drying..... hmm... seems to be a long nite

3.10AM: ... oh!!!! i dont have any more coins.... what to do.... i cant leave clothes like that... they will stink. I have to get some more coins.

3.15AM: went to old laundry to get some coins from coin machine. 20 mins walk at midnight. Great experience.

3.30AM: started dryer again... praying that this time they should be OK. Ate 2 apples to keep myself awake.

4.15AM: clothes were still wet. Put a few more coins..... Another 45 minutes....

5.00AM: clothes were about to dry... but little wet.... 4 more coins... 45 more minutes.. Can’t even sleep... can’t even stay awake. Stage of extreme frustration.

5.15AM: Lemans is!!@!#!$#!#$@%@#%@%@$% ? (BAD)!!!

5.45AM: its almost morning... clothes are finally dry. I am almost dead.... and ready to sleep

* Total cost for laundry: 9 dollars
* Lessons learnt: don’t be a fool to leave village green and come to lemans
* Lessons learnt: never sell your car just because u need money to go to India. It’s horrible to walk for 20 mins at 3 o clock in the night to get a few coins.
* Lessons learnt: Never trust people for their words.