When said too often or almost always, people tend to feel intimidated or even weary of the narration. Yet I cannot help it, each time I travel and share my stories. Each time I travel back I also redo my estimation of how many years behind some nations we are in terms of very fundamental things. I never attempt to calculate the economics or industry or business or medical advancements because there, dime a dozen ‘pundits’ espousing nationalist pride and prestige and mera bharat mahan kind of sermon, mushroom suddenly even in a ‘chai ki dukan’ (Indian description for a road-side Tea stall) scenario.
Thus, keeping my estimation very basic and never ever forgetting Professor Higgins’s mother’s advice to him: “to stick to the weather and your health” to avoid sticky or tricky or both situations – my estimation is about attitudes and work culture of our country! And keeping it safe we are about a whole 1000 years behind some nations and at the present rate can never ever think of even nearing them to a nearest hundred! I have added a whole ‘zero’ to my last summer estimation.
Great work attitudes come from an exceedingly and often basic mindsets: having a desire to excel every time, even when doing the simplest of task, how-so-ever repetitive and mundane they may be. Like making a cup of coffee in a line of hundreds done through the day, in a café. Cleaning the glassware to a sparkle in an airport lounge. Being involved with work in a supermarket. Making it the next most important thing to answer a query if asked about something by someone. Leaving money in the ‘honesty’ box after picking up eggs or vegetables or even duck feed from an unmanned farm outlet on a deserted country road or in the middle of a town full of tourists.
The list is endless. The list is exhaustive. But it is simple, it is mundane, it is commonplace and every day for folks in New Zealand (and probably someplace else too in the world).
It was also not so long ago a quality highly appreciated in our own country. And found in many folks on our land too; with exceptions being far in-between.
For I don’t remember chucking out paper or dirt out of our car window as Dad drove us across the country. A banana peel maybe sometimes, but then ok – at least it was bio-degradable!! We kept our water in a mud-baked ‘matka’ or ‘surahi’ out in the “loo” (hot winds which blow across North India in peak summer) to have the coolest of water. We trusted a stranger to take one of our punctured tires for repairs to the next village as we patiently waited in the car, in some remote eastern Bihar (an eastern state in our country ) area eagerly awaiting his return via a return shared taxi. Grand Ma’s trusted vegetable vendor never charged for fresh coriander and green chillis, always throwing in enough to last her a week, each time she purchased fresh vegies from him. (Though it did not stop her from complaining to him that he had become quite miserly with it of late!!)
Examples like these were umpteen with all of us, of my age, as we grew up in this land. They are far in-between now. Which sadly brings me to my estimation of present day.
But umeed pe duniya kayam hai! (= the world functions on the ray of eternal Hope!) – my Dad’s favourite thing to say in such situations!
I hope too with not much hope though!