Friday, January 20, 2012

Justifying India with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

I met an interesting woman today. We discussed expats that hate India and those that love it here. Then she mentioned that she had a hearing aid on and has volunteered in schools for the hearing impaired. With my limited knowledge of such schools I said it is great she did that and it is great such schools were become accessible in India. She had lots of good things to say but then she mentioned something that is unthinkable for most of us parents – “They keep the hearing aids at school” she said. “The children are not allowed to take them home. “

“But, that means they can’t hear once they go home?”

“Yes” she said. “But what can the schools do? Many parents sell the hearing aids.”

It is hard to believe that you would sell off your childs ability to hear.

It got me thinking about all the other things that I have found hard to believe there. I won’t list them here but they are far worse than selling your child’s hearing aid.

It also got me thinking of all the things I can’t believe people don’t try to change - the trash thrown around, respect for public and other’s property, respect for other humans and animals.

So, I read a bit and thought a bit and they only way I can try to understand it is by looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and expanding the orange part to fill most of the triangle. Most of the country is struggling to ensure they have enough food and a piece of land to call home. Those that rise above it want to leave something better for their immediate family. Respect, landscaping, wanting to do good onto others is something only a few can afford.

Once again I cannot justify selling a child’s hearing aid or sending your eight year old to be a domestic help in someones house but then I have not had to feed, clothe and manage my family for less than $2 a day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scuba Diving at Murudeshwara - first but not the last time.

New year resolutions still fresh – year of few regrets –I signed Ankit (12yrs) and myself up for a BMC organized scuba diving trip to Murudeshwara.

Summary of events:
  • Went through a trip organized by BMC. There were five of us along with a driver and a co-ordinator.
  • We left Friday night at 9pm and were back Monday morning at 7am.
  • Drive to Murudeshwara took 10 hours each way. It was hard to sleep in the car - little tight on space and there are lots of curves and bends in the road along the away.
  • After a short two hour nap we did a swimming pool lesson Saturday afternoon that last for two hours ( 30 min in the pool)
  • Spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying touristy water sports and visiting the amazingly massive statue and temple there.
  • Took a one hour ride to Netrani Island where we snorkeled while waiting for our turn to dive. There were other groups ( around 10 other people) that had come on other boats. We never docked at the Island but mainly swam, snorkeled and chilled on the boat.
  • Came back, used the swimming pool lockers to bathe and change before having dinner and heading back to Bangalore.

  • Ability to do all this over a weekend ( Thank you BMC)
  • Scuba diving experience ( read first timer learnings here )
  • Snorkeling while waiting for turn to dive.
  • Option to do a second dive ( at Rs 1000/- extra)
  • Seeing the sights of Murudeshwara
  • Very good seafood at Naveen Beach Resort.

Not so great:

  • Long drive back after a tiring day - it ensured we were back in town on Monday morning but if you have an option try to stay there another night.
  • Having a sick driver popping pills and driving 
  • through hilly areas at night - once again ensured we were back by Monday morning.
  • Being in the midst of co-ordination chaos with bad cell phone coverage. We were not always sure where and what was going on. This worked in a five person group but would have driven a bigger group crazy. All worked out in the end but there were frustrating moments.
Will I do this again? Yes !! I loved diving. The BMC trip was a great starter and as soon as Ankit and I get our swimming practice going and can do 200m with ease we will be going for a certification course.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not being the change I want to see.

I have a panipuri guy. Amongst the many panipuri stalls that I pass on a regular basis he has become our favorite. He asks and customizes the spice level for us. He hands Ashvin as many empty panipuris as he can eat. He is our panipuriwala so when I saw a different guy at his spot I was sad. However much to our delight a few days ago we ran into him again.
He had started his own business he said so he had to find a new spot. Happy to find him we took the little bowls made of leaves and enjoyed the spicy water filled delights. When done I smiled/snickered as I noticed that his new spot was right next to a drainage ditch. The ditch had enough rubbish thrown into it that I didn’t give it a second thought and threw my ‘biodegradable’ bowl into it. Nice spot I thought, he has a trash can right behind him. And then I heard him. “ Ma'am here is the dustbin.”  He had a bucket next to him to collect the trash.
When I first came here I would have thought twice before throwing anything anywhere – regardless of the fact that others had done it. I am embarrassed to say a year and half here and I am being reprimanded by a pani-puri guy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First time scuba diving - a few learnings

Sensible Things I learnt from my first scuba lesson-
  • You DO NOT need to be able to swim 200m. You should be comfortable in water. I have a feeling they have taken people that cannot swim much for a discovery dive. You are wearing something equivalent to a life jacket all the time.
  • The first dive is more like a tour. You move your legs and obey the instructor. My second dive taught me a lot more about balancing and control - when my instructor did not hold onto me and control everything.
  • The guided dives are safe - even if the equipment fails you can get to the surface with ease. They key overall is not to panic.
  • It was a comfortable and enjoyable experience for a 12 year old.
  • Calm is the word. Don’t move your arms and stay calm. Breath and soon you’ll forget you are underwater.
  • You swim way faster and go further when swimming underwater.

Fun things I learnt -
  • It is amazing down there. I would compare it to watching the forest scenes from the movie Avatar. A beautiful different world where the sun filters in through the water, hundreds of fish swim at arms length, then dart away and hide behind rocks and stare at you.
  • Swim in the Indian Ocean - where it is warm and you don’t need a wetsuit.
  • Unless a fish is stuck in a rock or something it is hard to touch one. I tired a lot :)
  • If you can then do snorkel above a diver - it is a lot of fun to play with the bubbles.