Roots

Source : Google photo of Gothic style cathedral in my home town

Synopsis : The connection we feel to our birth place is universal but this connection depends on the link we maintained with the people we knew there. When this link is broken due to reasons beyond our control, the connection weakens and in some cases disappears. Still a feeling for our roots persists even after a long time.

We all belong somewhere and have our roots in our ville natale that we can never forget. It is in our home town we grew up, played with our childhood friends, went to school with them and later started to diverge when we went to college. The college, its classmates, its teachers and the librarian, its ambiance, its diverse students who came from all parts of the country, its celebrations, its charm and finally the day we graduated and left it forever are reminders of how we grew up to prepare ourselves for the wider world that was still unknown to us including its promises and its challenges.

Thus little by little we develop our roots in our home town that we come to love and a feeling that we belong here in a way no one belongs who is just a visitor. We come to know its delights, its charms, its numerous historical places and the food. We come to know all the streets and its markets, its hidden places that sell what others do not. We knew exactly where to go when we needed something no matter how trivial or special.

We come to love our home town because it is where we spent our best years growing up and getting ready with education that would someday open up the wider world to us that we could only imagine or read in the books. Most people I knew stayed and got jobs after their education, married, raised their families and got old. Some died and others count their days after retirement. Some moved away and settled somewhere else just like I did but the roots to our home town cannot be ignored. It is still there whether we live there or not.

There were some trees near our place that bloomed during the onset of the rainy season and spread an intoxicating scent that I still cannot forget. The hot and dry soil spread its scent when the first rains came and that too I can’t forget.

The beautiful dolphins playing in the river, the gorgeous peacocks spreading their wings and dancing when the sky got dark with clouds, the cackling sound of hyenas at night, the howl of wolves all bring back the nostalgia I still feel. I mourn when I see no more dolphins that were killed by the poachers. The hyenas and wolves have retreated back to forested areas because the city has grown and pushed them out but the peacocks still remain.

So little by little the hometown undergoes changes that must come as the government pushes development. The roads are widened, new bridges and highways link it to other cities. New airport where gleaming jets land and take you to all parts of the country, new colleges and universities where the next generation of students in smart uniforms get their education, new streets lights, new markets bulging with alluring things to buy, new communication system that connects you to the whole world instantly are too many things that have happened to my once sleepy home town that have changed it forever.

Gone are the days when we could walk in the near empty streets in the evening and feel the cool summer breeze. Now no one can safely cross the streets due to heavy traffic. No one can breathe the pure air because the air is polluted and no one can enjoy the quiet evenings because of the noise of vehicles. There were hardly any cars or scooters on the road when we were young but now people find it hard to find a parking place.

The change is inevitable as the whole country is on a fast track to develop its infrastructure at breakneck speed. The new technology, the new way of on line government services, the new high speed trains, the new outlook of the whole country as it wakes up like a giant who was asleep for a long time has not left my home town untouched.

It has changed the people who live there. It has changed the way people have become disconnected to each other claiming that they have no time or other such trivial excuses so they have become more isolated.

It has impacted the next generation in a way no one had foreseen. Now the kids do not play together in parks like we used to but just watch nonstop cartoons on their flat screen TV or play video games on their PlayStations. They will never know the joy we felt playing in the park and making all sorts of mischief. We even caught very nasty hornets and tied a string in its belly to make it fly like a kite. How we caught them will remain a secret with us.

Now almost everyone has a cell phone so they spend more time looking at the tiny screen for new messages or hoping for one. Yet they have no time to say hello to their neighbors the way we used to. They do not now know the joy of playing carrom or Ludo with friends because they have no time. We had ivory or ebony strikers and had a soap stone that we scratched to get silky powder to play carrom with.

So I found this video that shows my home town the way it is now. Its growth and facility is impressive so anyone who returns after a long time will find it much changed. The people grow old, they die and the next generation moves away selling their houses so they cut their roots effectively. When you cut your roots this way, your feeling for your home town also dies because you do not find anyone you knew and grew up with. Everyone becomes a stranger to you.

The college I went to has changed so drastically that I cannot recognize it now. There are new buildings, new big trees, new everything. My professors have died or retired and left. My classmates scattered to all parts in India and some went abroad after graduation leaving no trace. The alumni association is weak but they still want you to contribute money to them so that they can continue their association activities.

Now you should watch this video of my home town to see and know how beautiful it still is. May be it was a good thing to shut down the city due to covid virus for a while that has cut down the emissions and purified the air but the pollution will definitely come back when the restrictions are lifted.

Source : U Tube video. It should have read Abode of God but the maker of the video was poor in English .

This video shows my home town and birth place in all its glory using the drone view. It shows the Kamala Nehru hospital where I was born and where our daughter was also born. It shows the bridge that I used to cross every day to go to college. It is a beautiful city, a green city with trees, parks, museum, planetarium and many historical places like the tomb of Moghul prince Khusro. It produced 4 prime ministers to rule the country for many years. The university was called the Oxford of the East with the words quot rami tot arbores on the main gate. Now there are many more universities where the students learn about the modern day technologies and new subjects.

But it is changing. It is no longer called Allahabad, a name given by the Emperor Akbar in 15th century who built the fort and laid the foundation of the city he called The city of Gods. Now it has been renamed as Prayagraj which was its ancient name. In India ancient means several thousands of years.

It now has a modern jet airport, new bridge on the river Yamuna, new highways, overpasses and a new metro under construction. Massive modern housings are coming up in the outskirts. 

But as a friend told me many years ago in Washington.. you can always leave but never go back .. so that has happened  with me as well. Still I can reminisce and wander in my mind the streets and parks of Allahabad that I knew so well.

I miss the winter, summer and fall there and the fruits each season brought. I miss the festivals and circus shows. I miss fishing in the river and the park where I played with my playmates when we were children. Many are dead now.

But my home town is still there, growing and showing off modern amenities, high speed trains, internet, fiber optic phone lines, FM stations, jets landing and taking you away to all parts of India. Only the people have changed.

Allahabad is really a very historic city where people fought the British tooth and nail to get freedom and paid for it with their lives. Their bodies were hung from the trees by the British and our heroes died in the gun battles in many parts of the city. The main park bigger than the central park of New York is renamed after the hero Chandra Shekhar Ajad who died there fighting the British.

But the world believed the lies of Gandhi and in his so called nonviolent movement that won our independence. It was a propaganda of the Congress party of massive proportion beating even Joseph Goebbels of the Nazi party. Gandhi was a pedophile and caused the partition of India that caused the death of a million people but the propagandist call him Mahatma. My home town fought in 1857 uprising against the British and has remained a political wellspring of dissent in India. It was Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army that chased the British out.

The streets look empty now due to Covid restrictions but slowly life is returning to normal. It is a beautiful city and with the most tree lined streets. From the air it looks like a garden with a massive park in the middle.

Aerial View of Sangam | District Prayagraj, Government of Uttar Pradesh |  India

Source : Google photo of Sangam where two rivers meet in Prayagraj

The two rivers Ganga and Yamuna meet in Allahabad but the blue water of Yamuna and the white water of Ganga do not mix but make an irregular line where they meet called Sangam where Hindus take a dip to get nirvana.

There used to be plenty of dolphins always playing in the river near the fort but they have all been killed by the poachers. I had seen the dolphins when I was a kid. But you can still see the peacocks in the parks.

My mother’s house has been sold so I do not go back to Allahabad anymore. There is no one there whom I knew. The city has changed dramatically because progress has come but it has also changed people in a negative way.

A friend in Europe wrote :

Thanks for forwarding this video and your notes. it is a beautiful place.  You had the good fortune of being born in a good time, place and circumstances to properly start a good life! 

I was surprised how few people and little traffic were shown in the video of the city. My only experience of India was when I went to a wedding of a girl, who was the daughter of Taiwanese Canadian friends of Chinese ancestry in Chennai, a very crowded city teeming with people. She married a Chennai born man in a Hindu ceremony carried out in the southern Brahmin tradition.

I also feel I was born under a lucky star starting in humble circumstances in a small provincial city, Halifax, which, non the less, was the capital city and the largest and wealthiest city of its sparsely populated region with an important Atlantic port which made it a vital link in times of conflict and war. I was born at the Grace Maternity Hospital

I did not realize your daughter was born in your home town and hospital in India as well.  I am thinking of birth and passage at this moment as my son was born at this hour 38 years ago at the Grace Maternity Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

It was a really colorful and exotic event for the twelve of us who came from North America and Europe to help them celebrate, dressing in local costumes to participate.   Our out of country group then did a ten day tour with the sister of the bride to the west and south through the Southern Ghat mountains and the Kerala coast to the southern tip of India,  giving a hint of the incredible cultural diversity, history and prehistory of your subcontinent homeland.

Another friend wrote :

Prayagraj is a beautiful city with many features I did not expect such as the planetarium, Christian institutions, colleges. I have never been to India, but the impression of your city is different than the impression I have of India.” 

Allahabad now known as Prayagraj is where the world’s largest congregation of pilgrims occurs every 12th year when millions of Hindus gather to celebrate the Maha Kumbha Mela . They come from all parts of India and the world to participate in the dip at the Sangam meaning at the confluence of the two mighty rivers Ganga and Yamuna. They believe that a dip there on a holy day frees their soul and they will get Nirvana. They set up a tent city complete with street lights, toilet facilities, police stations, CCTV cameras everywhere for security, food stores, movie screening places, lost and found office etc. There are field hospitals, information centers, communication centers and other such facilities so that the pilgrims do not face any difficulty.

They set up numerous stores to sell anything one can desire and put up 15 or 20 pontoon bridges on the Ganga river for people to cross. It is a massive undertaking to set up a tent city for so many people but they do it in a well organized way every 12th year. They even set up train stations so that the pilgrims can reach the site no matter where they come from. They set up landing strips where small planes can land and take you for a joy ride for a fee.

Then like magic, the whole tent city disappears when the fair is over after 2 months. I always admired the management of the fair grounds that does such a splendid job of setting it all up and then dismantling it later.

I will always remember my home town the way it used to be but that city is disappearing under massive development although some parts like the old city still remain. I will always remember the pranks we played on each other, the mischief we made together like the time a kid sucked the milk out of a goat in our lane while we tried to keep the goat still with tender grass. Her owner cursed the kids when the goat returned with no milk . Such were the joys of childhood that one cannot forget. It is hard to sever the roots even after such a long time.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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Shelter for the homeless

Source : Google photo of beautiful houses made with compressed earth bricks in India.

Synopsis : There are people who are homeless who sleep on the sidewalks of major cities in the world. They shiver in the cold and get wet whenever it rains so they do not have any protection from the elements. People in cars pass by but just ignore them because it is not their problem. So whose problem is it? Can’t the rich countries shelter their homeless population. The blog looks at the answers to this issue in a meaningful way.

I have written earlier about the affordable housing for the poor where a small house is put together in a few days using prefabricated walls and roof but requires cement concrete, iron bars and plastering for finishing.

But now in Ghana one man has started to build houses with bricks made of waste plastic although it takes more than a few days to build a single bed room house that the video below will show you.

Source : U tube video

He claims that he can build a small house in 70 days for about 10000 USD and another 5000 USD for paint and furnishings that makes it over 15000 USD that many poor people and the homeless people cannot afford. But the idea of making interlocking bricks with waste plastic is interesting considering how many millions of tons of plastic are thrown away to pollute the environment globally. Some of it ends up in the oceans posing grave threats to the wildlife. There is an area of plastic that floats in the Pacific Ocean that is larger than the size of Texas so you can imagine how many millions of tons of waste plastic is there that no one seems to bother about ( Read my blog on Curse of plastic pollution here. )

If I had money, I would rent or lease a factory ship equipped with all the equipment, hydraulic press etc. to make such bricks and tiles and go to the Pacific Ocean to pick up the trash and turn it into beautiful tiles or bricks. I would have inexhaustible source of plastic waste to pick up and clean up the ocean as well to save the marine life. When my ship is full, I will dock in some country to sell the things we made and go back making more just like what they do with the factory ships that catch and process tuna. Imagine if someone just thought about it seriously, he could make a lot of money and help build millions of homes for the poor in the process.

The idea of interlocking plastic bricks that fit on each other like Lego is a wonderful idea because it does not require any special skill to build a wall with it and it does not require cement and sand mortar. Just watch the video of it and see how they build houses in Ghana this way.  

So I was thinking that if so much waste plastic is available in every country that ends up in their landfills, in their waterways and just everywhere, it is just a matter of collecting it to bring it to a processing center that any government in any country can set up a low cost. It will be a onetime investment that will pay for itself in the short run but will start a revolution in the construction business to build mass housing for the poor and the homeless and solve the problem of plastic waste filling up the landfills.

It can also be done by the private sector where a rich businessman can easily set up a factory to build bricks out of plastic to build cheap but very sturdy houses in record times to solve the problem of housing for the very poor and homeless people everywhere.

I have already written how a Polish gentleman recycles waste plastic in his country to make beautiful and very strong roof tiles that he manufactures in different colors and gains good profit by exporting the tiles to other countries. There are many factories where waste plastic is turned into shiny plastic buckets, household things like molded chairs, tables etc so the waste plastic can be recycled this way but it uses only a fraction of the millions of tons of plastic waste that is available that goes to the dumps.

This gentleman in Ghana shows how he collects waste plastic of any kind, melts it down to make a thick paste, mixes sand in it , adds color and then using hydraulic press to mold beautiful and strong plastic bricks that he then uses to build houses. These plastic blocks have interlocking features so it does not require cement mortar to build a wall.

When I see the homeless people in the streets of so called rich countries and in other not so rich countries, I feel sad that countries that claims to be rich and spend trillions of dollars in foreign wars that they could not win cannot solve the housing problem of their poor citizens. Homelessness is a worldwide problem.

India has very large slums in Mumbai and in many other cities where the poor people live and build their own shelters with whatever material they can scrounge but they do not have sanitation, water and parks where their children can play. If the government or the private sector people could build homes for them using plastic waste in a preplanned manner with roads, sanitation and drainage pipes underground at a low cost then the slum problem can be resolved in a beautiful manner. People from other countries will come to see the beautiful homes where the poor people can live with dignity and comfort. ( Read my blog called Affordable homes here)

Whenever the city planning for the mass housing is talked about, the question of cost comes up quickly because the site has to acquired and paid for and the infrastructure needed for such housing has to be developed at a great cost. Then there is the cost of the houses itself.

But what if a very large area like the one occupied by the Dharavi slum in Mumbai is developed this way while temporary tent shelters could be made for the residents somewhere while the site is developed?

I know that China has worked very hard to build affordable homes and apartments for millions of its citizens all over the country so almost everyone has a modern home to live in. This type of development costs billions of dollars that the poorer countries cannot afford.

India has started building mass housing for its poor throughout the country but using the traditional methods of bricks, cement and mortar that need a lot of iron bars and finishing like in China so it is costly. So the solution to use waste plastic to make interlocking bricks to build houses seems like a very good idea.

Another innovative product called K Bricks are being manufactured from building demolition waste that is turned into high quality bricks using no cement so it is quite environment friendly and uses recycled building waste to make bricks under pressure. Watch the video below .

Source : U tube video

Another method is to make compressed earth bricks that are then used without cement mortar to build sturdy and long lasting beautiful homes.

Source : U tube video of compressed earth block to build low cost house.

In Ethiopia they build sturdy adobe houses at very low cost that you can see in the video here. My house in Mali was built this way except that the rooms were round in Malian style.

Source : U tube video of low cost adobe house in Ethiopia

I had a house built for me in a Malian village I had designed myself by the villagers. It was a beautiful house with 5 round rooms interconnected with each other that the villagers built with mud bricks dried in the sun. The 3 feet high foundation was built with laterite .Rooms were 4 meters in diameter so they were very spacious with windows for cross ventilation and with golden colored thatch roof .The floor was made of compact earth coated with cow dung once a week to give it a good dust free surface.

We screened all the windows and doors to keep out all insects like malaria causing mosquitoes so we were very proud of our house that many people came to see. They coated the outside walls with shea butter they made from the nut they gathered in the forest. It gave a waterproof and shiny surface and it protected the mud walls from the rain. I think I spent about 3000 USD for the entire house but that was in 1990. The lot was free. See the photos in the following link and read the blog here. ( Read the blog How to be truly self reliant anywhere here )

There are so many new and imaginative ways some people are building low costs houses with waste plastic, with compressed mud or with just mud bricks like they do in the African villages where no one is homeless.

But we see the tragedy of poor people sleeping on the sidewalks in major cities and looking for food in the dumpsters while fancy cars pass by never looking at them. If this happens in the so called rich countries then just imagine how the poor people live elsewhere. They are not protected from the elements so they get sick and die. They have nowhere to go for their morning call and have no access to fresh water to wash themselves so how do they survive? Why there is so much money for war but no money to provide low cost houses for these unfortunate people?

If China can reduce the poverty level drastically and provide decent modern houses for all its citizen then surely other countries with more resources can do it but it takes a national will and strong commitment to help the poor people so that they never have to sleep on the sidewalk getting wet and shivering in the cold. They too have every right to live in a decent home with dignity and the safety it can provide but who listens to them?

Source : Google photo of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk

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Do children owe their parents?

Source : Google photo of piggy bank saving

Synopsis : It takes a determined effort to save for your old age but most people do not pay enough attention to it resulting in their old age dependency on their children. The blog emphasizes the need for saving during your employment years that will allow you to live with dignity and pride until you close your eyes someday.

I have known horror stories of old people who were mistreated by their own sons or daughters so they sought sanctuary in old age homes somewhere. Often such people are found waiting at the railway stations in India to get away from their miserable life but have little money to pay for food and the tickets. They depend on the mercy of others who have a compassionate heart and see that the old people are famished and on the verge of collapse so they buy them some food and a train ticket to where they want to go. They are the lucky ones because most people just ignore them.

This subject disturbs me a great deal because I know that there are millions of old and very old people who depend on their sons or daughters for their survival. In the Asian culture people are expected to look after their ageing parents and care for them especially when they are sick or when they become physically challenged.

Just imagine an old man who is feeble and moves around only in a wheel chair but perhaps he was a great teacher, engineer or a scientist in his prime whom everyone respected for his knowledge and ability. He may have a wall full of certificates, medals and photos taken with important people but now no one looks at them or appreciates what he was when he was young.

Imagine an old lady who may have been a great ballet dancer or an actress who became famous for her beauty and dancing skills but now she is old and wrinkled living in great pain due to some illness.

Such is the ravage the passing time causes on people in their old age. There are stories of great movie actors and actresses who were famous but now live in poverty and squalor because they lost all their money, fame and beauty so people forget them. They are often neglected by their own kids who take no care of them and may even push them onto the streets.

I know a case where an old couple left their home in the middle of the night to escape and seek help because their daughter in law was mistreating them and not feeding them. She wanted their property so made their life miserable so that they would leave. There are numerous stories like this that come to light where the sons and daughters fight over the property or the money the parents may have so they try to push out their parents.

There was a great lady who raised her sons and daughter with all the care and love a mother could give. She celebrated their birth days, took 8mm film of them as they were growing up, cooked good meals for them etc. She was a model mother but after the death of her husband, she lived alone as her kids had grown up and left the nest to pursue their own life somewhere else. They hardly kept in touch with her.

She lived in her own house alone and was often lonely because no one came to see her or ask her how she was doing. She was not doing well because she was often sick so one day she decided to move into a hospital to be near a nurse and a doctor all the time.

She had money so she did not depend on her kids to pay for anything but she was still alone so she started reading every page of the Encyclopedia to gain knowledge. Her two sons never visited her or asked her how she was doing but the wayward daughter who had become a hippy came one day to convince her mother to sell her house so that she could get a share.

The old lady said that she had donated her house and everything in it to charity that made her daughter livid with anger because she needed money. Her mother said that she had taken good care of her and her brothers but now she does not owe them anything more. It was her right to do what she pleased with her house and property.

This story made me think that the old lady was right who kept her dignity while paying for all her expenses but she was a rare case. Not all old people are so lucky because they fail to prepare themselves for the old age.

In some rich countries of Europe, the government pays for the medical bills for the aged and sends social workers to keep an eye on them if they are living alone in their homes. The social workers buy groceries for them, clean the house and even take them to a hospital if needed. They get monetary help as well. But this is not the case in poorer countries meaning most of the countries where the poor people become dependent on their kids.

Now if the kids are well raised and love their parents, they do help when their parents need them but the daughters probably get married and move to a different part of the country so they take care of their own children and husband and pay less attention to their parents.

The sons may also move away and find a job somewhere far away leaving the parents at home alone. If the son gets married and brings in a woman from another family then the trouble starts because she may not have any affection for the old people who are not her parents. The story I told before in this blog reflects what some cruel women do to their in laws. ( Read my blog What have I become here )

In some countries the parents say to their grown up kids that it is their turn to help their parents who have raised them, fed them and took care of all their needs so now they must pay back. They demand a new car from them, a house or trips to other countries so the poor kids have to do it. I think such parents are highly immoral to even suggest that their kids should pay back for all they have done for them.

It is the duty of all parents to raise their kids properly , give them education and prepare them for jobs later but the kids do not owe them anything except love although it is not guaranteed that the kids will love their parents. The parents who think that their kids owe them for raising them forget that it is their duty to raise them without expectations. If the kids get a good education, a good job somewhere and are living happily, it should be enough and the only expectation from them. ( Read the blog Parents have a duty here)

I think that people who live independently of their children in their old age are the happiest people because I believe that every human being has a right to live his or her remaining days with dignity intact but this is easier said than done depending on how well the old people have prepared themselves financially for their retirement. If you retire at the age of 65 as most people do then you may live another 30 years before you die.

So unless you are well prepared for all your expenses for 30 years or so, you may have no choice but to depend on someone else to take care of you. So how do you prepare yourself for your old age, pay for all your expenses and die with your dignity intact?

Your wife is your dependent because it is your duty to take care of her as long as she lives. If you die first and she lives on for another 20 or 30 years then it is your duty to make sure that she has enough money to live on.

In India the old ladies are given the pension of their late husbands by the government if the husband was a government employee so that is a very big help to them. The government also pays for the schooling expenses of the sons and later gives them employment if their father dies in the service of the country like in the armed forces. Not everybody gets a government job and pension later on.

But many countries can’t afford it so the sons take up the responsibility to look after their parents. The problem as I see it comes from the fact that most people do not or cannot prepare themselves for their old age so they become helpless at a time when they need most help.

The need for savings:

I cannot overemphasize the crucial role savings play in anyone’s life. When we were kids, we had a piggy bank where we saved the coins we got for cutting the grass or doing errands. Slowly but steadily the piggy bank got filled up until it became full and heavy with coins. We then broke the piggy bank and started counting the money we had saved over a long period of time and were excited when we realized how much we had saved.

The idea of forming a habit to save starts early when your parents buy you a clay pig and encourage you to put your odd coins in it. Sometimes they too added to it when they had some loose coins.

Later when you start working and have a regular salary, you keep up this habit you had formed during your childhood to save so now you start saving seriously. Anyone can safely save about 25 to 30 % of what one earns and still pay for all the living expenses if living a modest life.

You can double this saving if your wife is also employed but the key is the word modest lifestyle. If you are extravagant and want an expensive car and such then it will put a serious dent in your finances. If you go on vacation and spend a lot of money every now and then, it will leave you with little to save. So a modest lifestyle is necessary to fill up your piggy bank that will come in handy when you are old. Now imagine how much you can save if you do it for 40 years!

A modest lifestyle does not mean that you are deprived of good food and shelter. It means that you have to curb your tendency to spend on non-essential things but concentrate on quality food, good shelter and clothes.

The point is that anyone can save and accumulate money for his old age. It has to start when you start working. You not only save for you and your wife’s old age but also for your children who someday will need a lot of money to get through college. Some kids get into trouble when they borrow money as student loan because they have to pay it back when they start earning so it is better if the parents can save for their education.

Everybody has a right to live with some financial security and the dignity it provides when most needed in the old age. But wishing it does nothing to achieve it. You need to have the determination to save to achieve your goal. There is no better friend than money in your old age.

You have a duty to provide for your wife and take care of her in sickness and health as you have vowed to do when you married her so she depends on you. Walk with her hand in hand toward the sunset of your life with your head held up high keeping your dignity intact because you have kept your promise.

Source : Google photo of a romantic elderly couple enjoying nature while sitting together on a bench in a tranquil day of summer in the park and enjoying the sunset years together.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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Culture of deceit

Source : Google photo

Synopsis : Some people think that being deceitful works to their advantage but it doesn’t. It always comes back to bite them because sooner or later they get caught. The culture of deceit drags people down the well they can’t escape from.

There was an Indian who watched a milk delivery man in a rural England village who brought in bottles of pure milk and left it at the doorsteps of houses while collecting the empty bottles. He asked the milkman how could he make a profit by selling pure milk this way when diluting the milk with water could earn him a handsome profit.

The old milkman was shocked at such immoral suggestion and asked the Indian if he had children at home and how would he feel if his children were cheated this way. The Indian had no answer and hung his head in shame. The old milkman said we do not do such despicable things here in this country.

Now I see that people everywhere are adopting a culture of deceit without a second thought and feel that some money should be made no matter what the method so we find the peas that look green are in fact dyed in green and possibly toxic color, the gills of fish are dyed red to make it look fresh, chicken pumped up with water to cheat at the weight, the milk diluted and crème removed before selling it as fresh pure milk. The list of fraud and cheating is very long and the traders are finding new ways every day to cheat people. Once I was given good looking cashews to taste in a shop in Delhi so I bought some. They extract the oil that they sell at a high price and still sell the tasteless cashews to make double profit and fool people.

The vegetable vendor cheats you with his sleight of hand and gives you less weight, the gas station attendant gives you less gasoline than what you pay for, the cloth merchant gives you less cloth than what you pay for etc. These are some of the examples of how people cheat you every day when you go out to buy anything which shows how morally bankrupt people have become these days everywhere.

Today I will write about other ways people have started to cheat and show how far they have descended into the immoral abyss that will boggle your mind. It is probably expected of traders to cheat because it seems to be in their DNA. Their greed for money that they want to earn no matter what is the method that puts them in the category of the Shylocks of this world .Woe to you if you ever borrow money from them because they will take a pound of your flesh with no Portia to defend you.

But what do you say to people who seem to be well educated and who resort to plagiarism in the most blatant way possible? You will find them in the media where the reporter or the anchor gives no credit to the source and claims it as his original effort to gather data. Occasionally they get caught of plagiarism and are forced to admit on air and apologize so they get a bit red faced but shake it off as nothing of consequence.

I was told by a college professor how some of his students just copy and paste some articles for their term paper from google and try to pass it on as something they have written. They get caught when the professor notices the same paragraph appearing in other’s term papers as well.

If you go to Washington D.C. and visit the government offices, you will notice a number of sneaky looking people with a briefcase in their hand lurking around. They are called the experts or the so called experts who are desperate for some consultancy to pay for their bills so will present themselves to various offices to try their luck. When they get lucky, the government hires these so called consultants and pays them handsomely to prepare a project proposal let us say in Afghanistan and pays them to visit the country to gather data and interview people there.

Soon they present their project proposal that looks impressive at the first glance but all they present is what they have copied from google and some cursory data they have gleaned in Kabul. So all these experts start their report by saying that Afghanistan is a dirt poor land locked country where people live on less than a dollar a day if they can earn that much.

They all carry laptops and can be seen typing away furiously at any airport waiting lounge or somewhere but they earn a handsome fee for their plagiaristic effort they pocket without the slightest amount of shame. I have seen the same thing at the UN that also hires these so called experts to write voluminous reports on various projects or proposed projects in Africa and other regions.

Now I can’t blame google for this spate of copy and paste behavior because google is just a search engine that everyone uses so google is not responsible for their behavior. What is so shameful in this degradation of ethics and amoral behavior is the fact that it has permeated all the way from the experts down to the teenage high schoolers who see nothing wrong.

I also notice something else called lip synching that artists, singers and TV presenters frequently use to fool people. The Chinese used a small girl to sing the opening song for the Beijing Olympics so the poor child was asked to lip sync the song that they had prerecorded to fool everybody. When it leaked out, they said that they wanted a perfect grand opening. The Bollywood movie actors and actresses who do not know how to sing anything only lip sync songs a background singer has sung. I liked the movie A star is born where Streisand and Kristofferson sang their songs. That is called honesty.

But the artists who lip sync are dishonest so people feel cheated. They pay for very expensive tickets to see and hear a well-known artist who presents her song as if she was singing but she was lip synching because she had a slight sore throat that day. An honest person admits to her fans that she is lip synching but they are not honest and say – what is the harm if no one finds out? The only problem is that people do find out and feel cheated. It is the worse feeling anyone can have.

I notice something else these days. It is when the TV program presenters like in Japan has talent or The Philippines has talent copy everything from the original show down to the shape of the judge’s chairs to the clothes the presenters wear. They do not stop there. They imitate the way the original show presenter talks, gestures , her body language and her hair color so you will see Asian women who dye their hair yellow and wear blue or green contact lenses presenting the caricature of the show but feel no shame.

It makes me wonder what happened to originality. Why such shameful imitation is quite common these days? Is talent so hard to find? There are wonderful artists and personalities who can bring any show on TV alive but why they are not given the opportunity to do so? Why totally worthless people irritate you with their antics on TV every day not to mention the pitiable transvestites with false breasts and miniskirts. They do not fool anybody but people say that it is all entertainment. I call it nepotism that is widely prevalent in the entertainment industry.

There was a TV show long ago which thankfully has been discontinued when a fellow was asked many questions by a panel of judges so he struggled to answer them, sweated and fidgeted but came out with an answer that the judges applauded. The show became popular enough to have its own franchise so it made money until someone leaked that whole show was based on fraud. The fellow fidgeting and sweating was a part of the fraud because he was given the answers through his tiny ear phone that was carefully hidden. When confronted, the producer shrugged it off by saying that it was all entertainment so a bit of fraud to get the ratings was justified. They are after the ratings and do not care how they get the higher ratings. The higher ratings bring in millions of dollars’ worth of advertising so fraud is quite acceptable.

A noted musician who wrote music and sang it in the Indian Bollywood movies said one day that he was retiring sadly because now the producers had computerized music recorded for auditing so they did not need a gifted singer to sing the entire song. They can now copy and patch an audio or video anyway they want because they want to cut down the cost but the audience does not see the difference. They too have become a part of the copy and paste culture using modern technology but lost the originality for which the earlier artists were known and appreciated.

I am sure a time will come soon when actors and actresses will be recorded on film singing or dancing or acting all virtually or through a 3 D virtual reality based program. Such movies will be made at a lower cost using very efficient computer programs. Some studios are already using the technology to make movies like Lion King or that stupid squirrel that is always chasing his acorn. They generate images using computers that look so real that will impress anyone.

They can show the destruction of the White House or the Hoover dam by using computers so we don’t know what we see is real or not. The robots or the animated characters are so human like now that they may soon put the highly paid actors and actresses out of business.

It is OK to use the technology to make movies and avoid costly and risky filming of stunts but in the process they are losing something that was quite important in our days called integrity, honesty and sheer acting talent of the actors. In the name of expediency and profit they have opted to cut corners that the viewers are quick to figure out these days. You can fool some people some of the time but not all the people all the time. Believe me when I say that no one likes to be fooled.

So I come back to the subject of deceit. Why people have become deceitful in trade, in the entertainment industry, in education and even in their daily social interactions? Why people say to you what they do not mean at all? When they say How are you- they are not interested in knowing how are you so why ask? They say that it is a manner of speaking so no one should take it seriously. But I do. I dislike fake people with their fake smile and fake handshake. I dislike people who try to fool me with their behavior. I dislike deceitful people who cannot be trusted. That is why I dislike baby kissing politicians who are corrupt and steal money once they get elected. They say Trust me but they are the last person anyone should trust.

An honest man of integrity does not say Trust me because he does not need to. He may be poor but his honesty and integrity spreads like a perfume while a dishonest and deceitful person gives out a bad odor of stench. I don’t care if the French say that there is good odor and bad odor because there is no good odor. Odor is what the bad people give out who cheat, lie and are deceitful. No one trusts them.

I think that this culture of deceit has developed in people who are after quick monetary gains so they are eager to take the most expedient way even if it is wrong. I thoroughly condemn it and hope that you will teach your children how to remain honest even if it means poverty. Do not sell your soul to gain riches that you will lose someday so what will remain of you? Think of that. 

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