Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Money and Happiness?

Ambani-Brothers_0It took a non-graduate, barely literate person from Gujarat to establish one of India's biggest industrial organization. The revolution he brought out was unprecedented in the country's history, which put the country on the world's radar, poured money in the hands of common people, and took apart the government's pathetic financial policies. Such was its magnitude that it even compelled one of the finest film directors in the country to make a fantastic film inspired by his life.

Merely two years after his death, it took two highly intelligent, educated people—one a dropout from the Stanford Business School, the other, an alumni of Wharton—to split up his indomitable legacy, in front of his widow's eyes, into two halves.

Its been five years after the split, and they are still not satisfied, as they make an attempt to settle their differences in the country's biggest institution of justice.

Money, as they say, is one of the most insignificant factors contributing to personal happiness. Otherwise, why would the world's richest Indian, boasting the country's first billion dollar house fight over petty issues?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Prevention and Cure

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India has undergone major changes ever since the MNCs have started to engulf the metropolitans. The pay packets have gone higher, infrastructure has improved tremendously, the offices have gotten better, roadside shops have given their way to expensive malls… the western culture has started to creep in.

A friend of mine tweeted -- "A pizza comes to our homes faster than a police in time of need."

The delicious cheese of a Veggie Delight from a Pizza Hut melting in the mouth offers a tremendous experience. It also injects that dreaded particles/matter in our bodies which gives fits to any partially unfit person—calories.

A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.

So the saying goes, people—especially working in MNCs—take extra effort by running endless miles on a rubber platform inside air conditioned corridors, or pumping iron twice the weight of their body, in an effort to lose the flesh gained "forever" on the hips and other parts of the body.

People make excuses while eating a chapati, "mein roti sookhi hi khata(i) hoon." ("I eat my chapati without ghee."). They stay away from sweets in an effort to reduce the fat. The most ironic of them being, people enjoying a "Diet" Coke alongside a Peppy Panneer Pizza.

Just as a note, "people" also includes me.

'Prevention' has always taken a backseat over 'Cure.' I regret those endless slices of Pizza now that I 'occasionally' exhaust myself in closed quarters amidst several other guys—I would probably not have minded had Maria been running alongside me, but unfortunately that is not the case.

So, where was I getting from this?

It has always been a case of convenience taking precedence over common sense. And the new place where I have just moved offers several such examples in daily life.

The moment I entered this country, I have been overwhelmed with variety. Where in India, I was content with buffalo milk (diluted with 50% water), I suddenly find endless types of milk! Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and D, Fat Free, 1% reduced fat, 2% fat, half and half pure milk… the list goes on.

My traditional "milk-corn flakes" breakfast no longer exist, because there are countless choices of morning cereals.

Extend this to almost every type of food item, and other things of day-to-day usage.

Disturbingly, most of these things are not natural. Hybrid is the buzz in this country. Hybrid milk, hybrid vegetables and fruits… everything is inorganic.

Be it cows being genetically treated to produce extraordinary amounts of milk, Chicken bred scientifically to have extra pair of legs and breasts, or apples treated with chemicals to make them insanely sweet, almost no common food item found in US is natural.

After discovering the disadvantages, special 'organic' food items are retailed—just a fancy term of selling naturally produced food items with minimal manipulation—at much higher prices than the usual processed ones.

Similarly, the overflow of fuel consuming BMWs, Mercedes, and Mustangs have given way to 'environment friendly' cars like Toyota Prius which refuses to reach 65 mph on a freeway even after pressing the accelerator.

BMW is the ultimate driving machine… no doubt about that! But the unpopularity of Mr. Bush over the Iraq war is a direct result of the same.

Prevention is better than Cure. But humans never realize. At every level—be it a frustrated call center guy working late and living on Pizza, or the organizers of Formula 1, responsible for burning away thousands of gallons of fuel in a single race.