Montreal Musings-day to day living V!

Two days after we left Montreal for Pune, it started to snow in Montreal. The coincidence was that the day we reached Pune, it stopped raining. I could see the difference. We in Pune have rains ¾ months during monsoons. The rain intensity is heavy only for a couple of spells of 2/3 days during the season. Otherwise, the rain is hardly ever discussed in Pune and we can move around easily most of the time without an umbrella! But winter in Montreal is quite harsh, and temperatures are below – 0 degrees to sometime –35 degrees. The severity is quite consistent, and people are very much geared up to handle the winter.  

One thing I realised in Canada, that the time taken to get ready to go out is high. Even if you are going out casually, you have to prepare. In India, you may probably quickly change into Jeans and Tshirt. You may wear sandals instead of chappals. In Montreal first you need to check up weather report and understand if it is going to rain, or there is going to be snowfall. You also need to check up if it is going to be windy because the windchill effect is going to create more problems. We may need to wear thermal wear or layered clothing. You need to protect against rains too. Umbrella handling becomes very tricky if it is going to be windy. Then comes the hoody, the scarf, the wool cap and scarf. 

On top of that, you need to select the right jackets depending on the temperature. You also need to decide if you need to wear regular socks (sometimes two on top of each other) or woollen socks! In short, one could easily take ten to fifteen minutes to get ready to go out. Ladies, of course, should add their additional time requirement of getting ready! 

I faced one difficulty. With all this winter gear, our side vision gets restricted due to scarves and hoodies. Plus I always used to cover my nose with the scarf. Due to this covering, there used to be fogging of my glasses, which needed to be wiped regularly. But when there was no rain or strong wind (it did now snow during our stay) walking was a great pleasure. Weather was always fresh, and the pollution was almost nonexistent! I forgot to mention hand-gloves but keeping hands in the jacket pockets was good enough during our stayWe walked a couple of Km at a time, many times and it was fun.  

Another thing I observed was that people mainly wear black or darkish clothes during winter. It is natural as black colour absorbs heat rather than reflecting like the white colour. Another thing we see on the road is other than retired people most people walk very briskly. The brisk walk is because it is so cold that you want to reach your destination as early as possible. Plus brisk walk also generates heat! We living in India do not understand the importance of the Sun because we always have it. In these cold countries, sunny days in winter are infrequentWe are lucky to be living in the region where weather is temperate.  

I came to know during discussions that many senior citizens live all by themselves. They manage with some hired support and sometimes without assistance. I have seen that some larger grocery stores give you free delivery at home if you buy items worth more than $50/. I am sure that there may be some online stores who provide home delivery of many things with or without some rider! Amazon is always there!  

I also saw many shops from the chain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DollaramaIt’s beginning was in 1905, and it has become big chain with stores at more than 1000 locations. They initially started with items costing around one dollar, but now they have increased the range a bit and have things costing up to five dollars. The change allowed them to increase the range of products they can keep in the store. We don’t buy expensive items daily, and Dollarama has created a store where day to day lowcost needs are satisfied.  

Baklavas1

Baklavas!

I am aware that Canada is a country of immigrants. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of establishments run by Iranians/Libyans and people from the middle-east region. The strong Iranian presence was indicated by the presence of a big coffee shop at the Montreal Airport. Besides having the usual Sandwiches, Lays and Doritos, the shop had a big section selling different types of Baklava! It was like an outlet like the ones we have on Indian airports, Haldiram items.  

Now I have reached the end of my series so let me share my travel experience during the return journey. I am always amazed to see that desi crowd in a group somehow cannot show basic discipline. At the Montreal Airport, the desi crowd on the flight was about 20/25 %The line for boarding and the actual boarding process was quite smooth.

But for my next leg from Munich to Mumbai 80-85%, people were desis. I could see the difference in the behaviour of the people in the queue, unnecessary pushing and shovingDo desis feel that flight is going to go without them? Are they afraid that they may not get a place to sit? Are they worried that they may not get space to put their carry on baggage? don’t know what makes them behave chaotically.

I am sharing below a tweet sent by Mr Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group. 

Only flights to & from India at most airports have so many wheelchairs pre-ordered. Trying to figure out why. 1) Do elderly Indians travel more than others? 2) Do we have more infirm/unfit people? 3) Are we just jugaadus who order wheelchairs to get faster access through queues!?pic.twitter.com/eyIm5O4KB1 

I feel that the third point mentioned by him is the correct analysis. Jugaad is a colloquial Hindi, Bengali, Marathi जुगाड, Punjabi and Urdu word, which has various meanings depending on the situation. Roughly translated, jugaar is a “hack”. It could also refer to an innovative fix or a simple work-around, a solution that bends the rules, or a resource that can be used in such a way.  

Or I feel that we Indians where ever possible, want to cut corners. Where ever possible bend the rule. For ordering a wheelchair, you don’t need a doctor’s certificate. You order it, and the attendant helps you go through all formalities till you are in your car. I can understand this if one is unwell, or one does not know a word in any foreign language. But when you are fit, you know English, and you are going for 5th time, you don’t need this support. But it is the children of these people who are equally responsible; they make them dependent on things and do not explain what needs to be done.  

My neighbour lived in the UK and wanted his mother to join him for the first time. She could speak only Gujarati. We asked her how much foreign exchange she had with her. Her son had arranged for not a single dollar. Then we gave her about the US $50/ in a different denominationand told her if some delay takes place at Heathrow, she could at least buy some biscuits and water. 

I hope in future these folks will guide their parents properly and make them confident. I have seen Goras who are 80 plus, walking all over the airport without any help. 

Now I am back in Bharat Desh, and I can see a lot of fun (stupidity?) going on in Mumbai! Let us watch and see what happens in future!  

 

  

False Pride 1!

My friend Ravi and I were chatting about overall situation in India. As usual the discussion came to the question, why no areas in India look like areas in any developed country? Every city has its own Harlem, China town, Dharavi and such tough areas. In most developed countries they manage to hide these areas from out of town people. Those who live in the same city would obviously know about such area. These areas are what can be described as “Fact of Life”. But in India even in Non-Dharavi parts of cities, are seriously deficient. It may be public toilets, it may be roads in posh areas, railway stations, bus stations. What is it that we are lacking? Where is India deficient?  

We are doing great in IT, ISRO, Motorcycles, and we are trying to improve ease of doing business in India. These achievements can make every Indian proud. India’s road network is improving, Metros are coming to different cities. Airports are being modernized as are many other places. We have a very large population; if used properly, it can be a great asset! Improvements are seen in the field of Agriculture. Our economy is growing at a brisk pace. Still I don’t feel great from within. Why is this happening?  

I feel that all improvements are negated by attitude of overall population. We have ministers who declare in public forum that Darwin’s theory is bogus. We had a lot of ruckus created about a movie which is based on an undocumented 700 years old history. Nobody knows anything about that history. Everything is hearsay! But some Ku Klux Klan type of organizations have offered a booty of Rs.20/ million plus to cut off the nose and ears of the lead actress! How is the actress connected with this? She is just doing her job based a role offered to her! The producer and director are producing this movie based on their interpretation of the historical fiction. This ruckus wasted a lot of time of Supreme Court, putting pressure on local security forces due to uncertain situation in many states. Does this status make you proud? 

Yesterday, we had our alumni annual get together. We first met at our college boat club. Nostalgia and the tea served in the canteen went hand in hand. Some of us had not visited the boat club since 1971! We enjoyed our cuppa in plastic cups! To our horror we found that at 3 to 4 crumbled cups were thrown on the ground. We are supposed to be elite engineers from elite 150-year-old college! Did this make us proud?  

I had shared with you a story about a doctor who is our contemporary. When he was caught stopping, on his two-wheeler, at a signal on a zebra crossing. When he was fined by an automated system he was livid! I had shared with you a story about a trained Chartered Accountant of Indian Origin, living in Sydney. His idea of fun after going to India on a holiday was to break traffic signals 30/40 times! There is story from England of a group of Indian origin people living in the same town. They were from one village in India. One of them dialed a number in India, then turn by turn they talked with their relatives. Total call duration was 8 hours. When the person received the next bill, he promptly raised a complaint. He claimed, “Yes, we do sometime talk for 15/20 minutes, but 8 hours call indicates that there is a technical error”! The phone company promptly removed their 8-hour call from the bill. Do these stories make us proud?  

Most of the stories I shared above are about the so called educated, elite people from our Bharat Desh! Unless these basic behavior changes, how can India improve? I read a statement somewhere. A country is considered developed, when rich people travel in public transport. This happens in UK where Ministers and MP’s go to parliament by tube. Though a lot of good things are happening in India, we as a society are always looking to cheat, break laws with impunity. If govt officials try to implement law, they are threatened and sometimes beaten. The most famous statement on Delhi road is, ” Do you know who my father is?”  Very rarely an influential  parent will allow the law to take its own course against their children, even if a murder is involved.   

Sometime back, I had read a story about Police Commissioner of Tel Aviv. He was found talking on cell phone while driving. The policeman on duty, asked him to stop and fined him. When he read the person’s name on the license, he realized that the person was his biggest boss. Commissioner paid the fine. Couple of hours later the policeman was called to Commissioner’s office. Policeman was worried but on reaching there, he was awarded a certificate for exemplary work! Recently, a couple of ministers were photographed, driving two-wheelers, during a political rally, without a helmet. City police are afraid to even discuss making a police case out of the incident! Does this make us proud?  

Gadkari

A lover boy wanted to meet his fiancé who was in transit at an airport. He forged an old ticket and entered the transit area somehow. While coming out he was found and arrested. Why he did this? Why break laws, forge a ticket without fear?  

We can find examples galore. These examples just show that on one side we talk of great old Indian civilization but we are not afraid break laws, throw muck around, do what we want. We always want to cut corners. With all such acts, is there any benefit? No there is absolutely no benefit. Then why do we do it? Superiority complex? Superior to what? Does place in authority or having a little extra money give us moral rights to do whatever we want? Do these acts not inconvenience others in the society? Are rules and laws not same for everybody irrespective of your station in the society? Why there is a porter given to ministers to take their hand baggage into an airplane? Is it so difficult? Which law says that it is allowed?  

Friends, I will be sharing and discussing more about Indian mentality,  regularly. Please share your thoughts and give suggestions. Let us all work together and make ours a great nation. It is doable. All should simply behave like normal humans. All the high posts, minister ships are temporary. Why an army car or a police vehicle halts on a no parking road? Are those using such vehicles with buttery legs? Can’t their drivers park their vehicles in parking zone and come back to pick up, when work is done. We as society treat these misdemeanors as rights and feel proud. Let’s go away from such false pride! The day we start feeling ashamed of such behavior, India will be on the mend.

                                                                      Jaihind!