Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

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The ‘hippie’ culture is very much alive in Pushkar, a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

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Pushkar,one of the oldest cities in India (just two and half hour away from Jaipur) is tagged as a ‘hippie haven’ where you can find a large number of local and foreign hippies. According to some they visited the place during the Holi festival and ended up staying permanently.

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This man is a Sadhu though, not a hippie. Sadhus are sanyasi, or renunciates, who have left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal.( Wikipedia)

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Colorful ottomans with ornate Rajasthani mirror work among some of the arts and crafts that can be purchased on the street bazaar.
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A camel ride at Pushkar festival.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

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A street performance at the Indian festival called ‘Surajkund Mela’

This annual festival is a pure delight to the senses as you are greeted with lively and colorful performances and serenaded with folk music while you gape at the beautiful and ornate, ethnic Indian/Mughal decorations all around the amphitheater near a man made lake. This mela showcases the finest handcrafted fabrics, arts and craft from all over India. Also adding to the total Indian cultural experience are the aromas of different Indian cuisine wafting in the air coming from the numerous food stalls in the area.

The festival is named after an ancient reservoir of the 10th century located at Faridabad, Haryana in India built by the Tomar king Suraj Pal of Tomar dynasty; a sun worshiper who also built a sun temple on the lake’s western banks. Surajkund literally means ‘ lake of the sun’ and mela means ‘festival’ in hindi.

Copyright 2013 JMKhapra

Greed, Negligence or Laziness?

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Today I experienced an incident which I concluded to be an allegory or a microscopic example of a simple chain of corruption that pervades our society.

Last Friday, I searched for the book Ten Novels and Their Authors by Somerset Maugham, online. A book I had been looking for in bookstores for a long time but could not find. I found it available on a website I regularly order books from. The edition with the price of 399 rupees was out of stock. A copy worth 701 rupees was available though so I ordered it. I was informed the shipping would be on the 5th and delivery on 8th.

I assumed that the 399 rupees edition that is out of stock must have been a re-print from a local publication and the 701 rupees edition would be coming from abroad therefore more expensive and probably printed in a much nicer paper. Sadly I was wrong.

The package came the next day. I was pleased but puzzled. I asked the courier man how come it came so early. The man vaguely replied. ” We found it ma’am.”

I opened the package. The book looked old. Brown and spotted at the edges. The letters are printed in the ugliest font possible. It hurts my eye just looking at it. The paper is cheap and coarse. On the front page tuck in between the pages was a piece of paper torn from a notebook indicating this is from the batch 2011. Therefore an old stock. At the back of the book there are 3 tags, the logo of the website, a price of 399 rupees with the name of a popular local publication above and the third one, the price of 399 rupees with the name of the original publication. Obviously they gave me an old stock which has the value of 399 rupees instead of 701 rupees. I felt robbed.

A couple of scenarios played in my mind. I don’t know how this business works. But I am guessing that when I placed the order in the website it was passed on to another another company who will search and deliver me the book. Where did then the corruption, neglect or laziness occurred? From which end?

Let say Mr. B is the second company who search for, buy and deliver the book. Mr. B found the book right away, an old stock for 399 rupees but he sees the the customer is charge 701 rupees. What should Mr. B do? Should Mr. B call the company who hired him and inform them of this fact? If he is honest, thorough and reliable he should have. But he didn’t. Did he keep the 300 rupees extra for himself? Or is company aware of these discrepancies? Is it laziness to do the right thing which prevented them from correcting this irregularity or did Mr. B wanted to make extra money from cheating the customer crossing his fingers hoping the customer would not notice? Are they so without shame that they did not even bother to remove the original price tag from the back cover? I could not find any justification for the extra 300 rupees they charged me for the book.

I wrote them a letter and complained about this, demanding they give me back my money or deliver a book of my choosing having the same value they owed me.

Today someone from their company with a machine gun for a mouth called me. After asking him to slow down, he proceeded to explain how their company works and in a defensive unpleasant tone told me, ” It is not as if we deliberately overcharged you…” I stopped him right there and told him I don’t care how their company operates, that is not my concern. I ordered a product which has a value of 701 rupees instead I got something for the value of 399 rupees so obvious there was no point arguing about it. I told him whatever it is that happened between ordering and delivery should not be my problem and what is due me should be given to me. He grudgingly agreed and promised me vaguely that he will ask his supervisor and see if I could be compensated for this. But I have a feeling this issue will not be remedied. That won’t stopped me from hounding them until I get my money’s worth back though. Social media like Facebook and blogs are great platform for this. There is no escape.

I don’t see what the big deal is. What I asked is simple. Give me back my money’s worth. Someone made huge a profit and someone else may have to pay for it. I don’t care. To keep your customer happy and regained their trust a manager or whoever is responsible for customer related issues should pay back even from his own pocket the money they clearly owe the customer.

Be honest. Be fair. Be diligent. Then these kind of problems will not happen. You cannot lose the trust of a customer for a meager 300 rupees. I told them businesses also rely in the power of the word of mouth. An incident like this can easily ruin their reputation.

I am currently awaiting their reply for the second letter I sent them.

Now isn’t this exactly the kind of frustration we faced everyday because of laziness and greed? Be it in obtaining justice for bigger crimes or just a matter of getting your official documents done, someone is being sloppy and lazy and someone is out to get that unearned quick buck. If I just shrugged my shoulders and kept quiet the thieves would have merrily went their way without a second thought. We have the power now to demand what is due to us. Do not let anybody rob that right from you.

©JMKhapra

*The second time the customer service guy called me, they said they will not refund me because the book I received was imported from the US  which was a boldfaced lie and I told him so but he did not relent. Eventually the company refunded me though, through some kind of an online wallet after I put the link to this blog on my complaint letter.  

The Ebb And Flow of Fate

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painting by Jofelyn M. Khapra

 

” I remember I used to be a young girl once ” cried an old woman sitting on the street a begging bowl near her feet.  ” With shiny hair cascading down my back and life radiating from my supple skin. My springy steps led  me down the beach each waking day. Soaking under the sparkling sun I danced my cares away. I doodled my hopes and dreams on pristine sands and they were grand! The horizon was bright and clear  so were my youthful days.  ”

 

” But father died and then my future did not stand a chance. Away from the sea, I was married off to a bastard of a man who drinks from sunrise till dawn. The demon drunk and drunk until his liver fell out but not before he left me with a dozen mouth to feed.  Gloom rained down unceasingly. Two of my children had died from malnutrition.Three of my sons are in prison. The rest of them I don’t know where they have gone. My only daughter, too young but working as a servant. Her fate as doomed as mine. Without a dowry, for her I can never find a decent mate.”

” Now look at me wrinkled and grey before my time. Angry waves have long washed my dreams away. ”

” Please  young lady can you not spare this poor old woman a rupee?”

A Mysterious Death In The Village

Rahul sat restless besides his mother. He could not understand why she would not allow him to go out and celebrate with his friends. He missed watching the final match on tv and did not see how the game was won. The whole country was gripped by cricket fever yet their village was silent as a tomb. Comparing it to a tomb he thought was appropriate since someone had died. Someone important. An old man who was look upon as a benign leader of the community. His death was gruesome and kind of strange. Leaving the villagers mystified and puzzled. But Rahul did not really know him and he found it hard to mourn for a man he have not even met. And that it happened in the most inconvenient time. The fireworks from other villages lighting the sky every now and then were an irritating reminder of what he was missing.

” The bull was there watching from outside the hospital when babaji was taken there. As if making sure he was dead.” One of the old ladies whispered through her ghunghat. The women sitting with her including his mother clucked their tongues in horror and amazement. ” And again the bull appeared in the crematorium when they were burning his body.” The women shuddered. “Eh bagwan!” (Oh my god). One of them muttered. Rahul stood up feeling impatient with the women’s superstitious tales. He wanted to know what was happening in the rest of the country. He could only imagine that everyone’s heart like him was filled with pride for his nation’s cricket team. It took after all a very very long time before they could take home the World Cup trophy again. Continue reading “A Mysterious Death In The Village”

The Shepherd’s Masterpiece

“There is a ghost up that tree.” said the shepherd. The sheep beside him looked up as if to say, ” So let it be how does it bother us.” With many sheep in the area, there was hardly any grass left for grazing. This particular sheep with the fluffiest wool was grazing on a lone yellow flowered plant. But one can’t really call it grazing as it was so gentle with the flower it was more like kissing.

The shepherd had let this sheep grow its wool without shearing it for last three season. The fluffy wool reminded him of one rockstar’s hairstyle whose name he could not even recall properly. There was a stick in the shepherd’s hand forked at the other end. He suddenly realized it and scratched a few lines on a moss covered rock in comfortable reach of his stick.

Not stopping he went on to write his name, drew a few symbols like at the rate sign, an exclamation mark and dot, dot, dot. Got up and went to the other side of the rock to continue his masterpiece. His pants became green at the back because of moss. Continue reading “The Shepherd’s Masterpiece”

Of Men And Stupidity

” Men are so stupid! ” A friend had declared while slumping on the chair of the cafe. She sounded like it was the first time she had that realization. I checked my watch. Judging from her tone this chat over a cup of coffee would take a long time.

” Husband problem? ” I asked. But I already knew the answer. She really didn’t need much encouragement. She nodded and started with the litany of complaints against her husband.
Continue reading “Of Men And Stupidity”