Thursday, June 03, 2010

Living abroad and thinking less-than-broad!

Every society, community, nation etc. contains a mix of different types of people. Broadly, those who are good and also behave good, those who are good but behave bad, those who are bad but behave good, and finally those who are bad and also behave bad. The middle two categories of people behave so because of the situation at hand. They are not designed to behave that other way, but the situation could make them do so and bend the rules to some degree. But the first and the last categories of people are the perfect ones. Now, there is nothing good or bad about either one of them, judgment depends totally on perception. But they are the most perfect categories in my opinion, because they just do what they are meant to do and nothing else. Predictable and not complicated at all to understand. I would like to focus on the very last category of people, who don't leave any stone unturned in proving time and again that they are different from the rest and the most, which is fine.

Indians sometimes are known to be cheap. Cheap in their behavior, cheap in their attitude, cheap in their mentality. India is a great country, and we are great people. But that doesn't mean we are perfect. And so, it makes no sense to me to just show the positive side of the country and stealthily protect the other side of the coin. Educated people in India are the biggest asset of the country, since they get the opportunity to represent India at all levels you may think, may it be global, economical or any other platform of exposure or recognition. Uneducated people contribute even more to the country by fact, but this contribution is not visible on all platforms of recognition. Being educated and being cheap at the same time, is thus a big sin in my opinion, because that brings about a very wrong perspective of the country outside the country itself. Specially referring to the expats of India.

Let's come to the story now. When I was home this time round, for a couple of weeks, I opened my mailbox one day to find a mail from an acquaintance of mine at work. An Indian, lately educated in Denmark, and working in the same company as me.

"Can you bring me 2 kgs of Haldiram Kaju Katli and 1 kg of Haldiram Besan ke Laddu?". For my international friends, these are really famous sweets in India. You should try them if you have not done so.

I had offered to bring anything if he wanted before leaving for India, and he caught the moment to ask me for it while I was home. No problem. It is my pleasure to bring it, I usually don't say it for fun that "I could bring something for you". I mean it and I like doing it. But, under any circumstances, 3 kg of stuff was ridiculously large. I replied back and offered to bring half of it, keeping the promise as well.

I made sure, we brought the right and good stuff. My father went to buy the stuff 10 kms away from my home, and back in the scorching heat of mid-May central India. Of course, he was covered, but still the effort and the expense was there. He invested his time in doing so, bringing the good quality stuff as demanded by my acquaintance. Why didn't I just purchase the sweets from the nukkar ka mithaiwala, who wears a white vest which is totally soaked in sweat and sells mithai's at really economical prices? That would not be nice, for an expat, I thought. I would not like that myself, so good stuff should really be good stuff. No doubts.

Fine, my father is back with the stuff and I happily pack it. 1.5 kilograms of sweets go right into my 27kg baggage. It will be checked in, within a few hours, first at Indore and then at New Delhi to reach Copenhagen 24 hours after the first check in.

"How much did it cost, papa?", I asked. "It was for 400 and 150, and you can ask a bit more for the bringing and carrying the weight to Copenhagen, it is normal.", was the reply.

"Sure, I must.", I replied. I could take anything else for my own use in this 1.5 kgs, which I would otherwise be buying in Copenhagen. I could take 6 200gm toothpastes, or some eatables, or some tissue papers (he he, not the best example, but you get the point!).

Back in Copenhagen, the guy comes to pick up the stuff. Interesting things we talk, we chat. After 10-15 minutes, on his face I can read the following expression, "Where is the mithai, dammit". He looks at his watch pretty often now, desperate? So well my friend, here is your mithai. Great! Vow! Thanks. "How much would it be? I will transfer the money into your Indian account!", he asks and cites respectively.

"It would be 700 and 150, totaling to 850 Rs.", I said. "Sure, I will send you my account number, right away", I added further. And I did that when he left.

Next day at work, I am pinged by the same person over our internal messenger, with extremely sweet opening lines and smileys thrown all around.

Coming to the point after a while, he tells "How much was the Kaju Katli for, 400 or 700? Oh you know, my wife, she actually called the mithaiwala (Madhuram in Indore) and asked the price for a kg. He told it was 400, so wanted to confirm from you before transferring the money. OK once you confirm, I will transfer the money."

I was taken aback. Shameless creature, has called back to India and asked the price of the stuff that I have brought for him. What? You got to be kidding me! So, this is where the cheapness comes in. Till then he was an educated young man for me. Maybe not anymore.

That was an insult, literally. First. We spend money on gasoline to bring the stuff. Second. We spend our time and effort to bring the stuff. Third, I spend a full 1.5 kgs of weight that could be used better, only for someone to thank me back by checking the price. As a matter of fact, excess baggage for a flight costs more than a 1000 Rs. per kg. By that standard, I should be charging him well 1500 Rs over the cost of the mithai. Wouldn't that be fair?

And moreover, it is a norm in India to consider the extra charges one has incurred for taking stuff for other people outside India. Has the mithai poured down from the sky just for you, someone has put an effort in bringing the stuff, eh? Instead of being thankful and pleased to be tasting good quality Indian sweets in Denmark, this person is retaliating back and confirming the price of the product and moreover telling me that this is what he did with pride, called the mithaiwala in India. In any case, this person is none of my good friends or any relative. So, why should I even think of bringing stuff for him, without anything in return.

In any case, ordering a kg of Kaju Katli through post from India costs no less than 1000 bucks. So, in no circumstance am I cheating or taking advantage of the situation. It is simply taking my right. But sometimes, educated people and their even equally educated wives, become two brains and a supercomputer of calculations which leads to extended smartness and thus unnecessarily cheap behavior. This happens only sometimes though.

As from my previous thoughts, India is a country of over one billion and this is just one tiniest of an example. Too little to generalize for a community of people from a nation, but a huge incident when it comes to adding another feather to your hat of experiences. I would rather keep away from budging from my position now, and take the entire amount only. Else, I will understand this person cannot even afford a 300 Rs. (or a 40 DKK) expense because of his lack of common sense. That is a rather bad bargain, I would like to pay 300 Rs. extra and at least consider myself to be a person with common sense. I promise to pay him and his wife 2 DKK each for the call to that mithaiwala.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol..ask him to buy at sweet palace in cph.It will cost 100 dkk.
Unable to control my laugh after reading this post :-)

6:12 AM  
Blogger Rajesh said...

haha! was very funny..i am sure he might have not been able to enjoy the sweets once he realized the gravity of the matter.. :D so what was it worth for him? nothing! he paid and didn't even enjoy! at least he could have enjoyed without thinking about the money for once..hehe!

2:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home