Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The goodbyes that are painful...

If I refer to all the females in my family (including me) as ‘drama queens’, it would be an understatement. We strongly believe that if a daughter to goes on a picnic she may never come back, or buying a two wheeler to a son is like gifting him death. So you get an idea. Every single thing is blown out of proportion and every event like marriage, birthday, and graduation is laced with tears and filmy dialogues and thus dampened. I grew up in such a fiercely loving yet slightly dramatic home, and even though I am way better in terms of drama, I seem to carry traces of what was generously bestowed upon me.

However I was married into a family where people are not as dramatic as us. Goodbyes here are more matter-of-fact and met with more smiles than tears. So my belief that my family had the most complex DNAs which made them brutally sensitive and that they were the first of its kind to have ever walked the earth only got stronger. I reach for the tissue during any movie that has got anything remotely to do with emotions. I fought tears and lost when my son got vaccination shots. The first two weeks of my son’s first daycare was when I ran short of words and tears or even breath. However I was strong enough to hold my own and not broadcast it to the rest of the family for obvious reasons.

This morning I dropped my son at the playschool when I heard loud wails from outside. A boy, around four, had been enrolled and it was his first day there. Two people had to stop him from running to his mother, who walked away hesitantly with her two younger kids. The child refused to pay heed to any act of consolation, and got too wild and loud to handle. Other children including my own stood perplexed and helpless.  We slowly left, even though my heart went out to the boy, who was evidently kept home till that day. As I stepped outside, the mother waited with a miserable look on her face. 
She asked me,’ Is he still crying?’. 
I said ‘Yes’.

She went up to her car, placed the youngest baby carefully on a car seat, fastened the seat belts for the other child and got on to the driver’s seat. 'Wow', I said. 'She must be the iron lady or something'. As we started the car to go to office I took one last look of the mother who was still in her car. She held a ball of tissues and was crying profusely. She kept wiping her eyes and slowly rested her head on the steering wheel. 

My heart melted.
The mother. Her undying love. Care.  Tears.  Worries. 

 You do not call that sensitive. It is what mothers are all about. 

I think I misunderstood my family.  


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oprah Winfrey : The costly refusal.

Last time Oprah Winfrey made news, was when she visited India and met the most accomplished people here who are none other than the ones in Bollywood. As she sat across the table for dinner, she famously asked ‘I hear that some people in India STILL eat with their hands?’ Then, it was a terrible shame that Madam Winfrey dint know that a majority of us Indians STILL cannot afford food.

Today as I glanced through the news, I came across this racism controversy of Ms.Winfrey. A shamefully ignorant clerk at an upscale store in Switzerland refused to show a purse worth $38000, (named after Jennifer Aniston), to her because he felt she may not be able to afford it.
This is 'that' bag!

This is completely believable. I have always told my friends this, when you go to buy clothes, that is when you should be dressed your best. Because wood headed sales guys often assess you with what you are wearing and your chances of finding an attire of your taste depends on that.  This was during a time before malls came into our lives and allowed us to choose what we wanted. When I was younger there were shops in which clothes were neatly stacked in cupboards and sales guys across a counter would pick them and display based on their mood.  If you are not very attractive in their eyes, you will end up buying a reject. This is a painful truth. Storekeepers measure you by what you wear and how presentable you look.

So Ms. Winfrey was not talking on her show and therefore might have turned up at this unfortunate Swiss store dressed for comfort. This is not about the ignorance of that guy who was unable to recognize her. Whether she can afford it or not is not the point either. It is the question of the basic right of a person at any store that has stuff on display. Anything should be accessible to the person who has walked into the store - without having to meet any prerequisites. The customer needn't arrive in a limousine walking like it was a red carpet event.

I have met rude and highly self-esteemed teenagers and young adults who literally have grown head phones from their ear lobes working as sales persons and delivery boys at various brand outlets. They are veterans in belittling customers and treating them like dirt. I have also seen sales persons at showrooms passing their comments and giggling at potentially vulnerable customers who try on the clothes displayed. I am a programmer by profession, and my codes do not expect me to smile at them, but I know the basic code of conduct expected of a person who is in the sales business. Do you or do you not feel like stepping into that store once again, where you were treated like a King with faces around that smiled gracefully and talked politely? Is it so difficult to show minimum civility to any person for that matter? You may not sell a Chanel or a Louboutin, but people are drawn to you by the way you treat them. And they will come again by how much you care about their purchase.

I am sure that poor guy at the Swiss store might have been fired and made to go through a list of Celebrities alive as on August 2013. It is not about being a celebrity. I may not be Oprah Winfrey or Jennifer Aniston, but today if I walk in to a Hummer showroom and ask to be shown a H1, I should be granted the opportunity.

 So this time, I guess Oprah was right when she said that she was snubbed.


Alternatively, she could have asked,’ Do people in Switzerland STILL find this bag expensive?’