Thursday, 29 October, 2009

When joy of giving turns sour ...

The Joy of Giving week was celebrated a little before Diwali. The students from Akanksha’s Lower Parel centre (an NGO involved in teaching less privileged kids) decided to experience the joy of giving this Diwali instead of the joy of getting. They celebrated Diwali in a home for cancer-affected kids. As the students performed dances and distributed gifts, the faces of those tired-looking kids brightened. A warm hug from all of us added to their joy.

For me, Diwali is the time to get out of the city. If possible, I would like to spend every Diwali in Kerala – the only state that does not celebrate Diwali in a big way. Or has it changed? I am not sure. Though I don’t celebrate Diwali, I happily accept the sweets and gifts offered by friends and neighbours. To counter the joy of getting, I give some money (Diwali baksheesh) to the people who do some service for me regularly – the security guards, milkman, cleaning woman, and so on. This is a usual practice; I am not doing anything out of the ordinary. For a housemaid, usually one month’s salary is given, while there’s no fixed amount for others. If I don’t give, they will come and ask for it. Anyway, I do not wait for them to ask. Before getting out of the city, I make it a point to meet each of them and give the baksheesh.

This year, however, I refused to give baksheesh once and another time, I had to give it without any joy of giving.

For the past one year, I complain regularly to the newspaper agent about non-delivery of papers, late delivery, missing supplements, excess billing, and what not. But there was no improvement in the service. One or two days after Diwali, two boys, whom I’d never seen in my life, rang the bell at around 8.30 in the morning. They claimed to be the newspaper delivery boys and wanted Diwali baksheesh. I refused saying I’d never seen them. One of them said the other boy had just joined as a delivery boy and he was teaching him. Both the trainer and the new recruit wanted baksheesh. I asked if the trainer was teaching the new boy to deliver the paper late and then ask for money. Sorry, I don’t pay for regular bad service.

After a week, two postmen came asking for the same, equipped with a notebook. I can’t say their service is bad, but very rare. But to think of two central government servants, who take good salaries home, doing rounds with a begging bowl (figuratively)! It looked like they were noting down the amount paid by each house in the notebook. I imagine that they would decide the quality of service for the next year based on the amount! I paid them sourly, without the joy of giving. Some time back, there was a newspaper article about postmen’s complaints – that they are no longer welcomed with warmth as it used to be. How will I welcome them happily if they come and ask for money for delivering a letter or two in a year?

Now I think I should’ve given the baksheesh to the boys. They earn less and maybe they would have wanted the money badly, not like the government employees who get regular salary and bonus. I’ve not seen the boys again. Paper delivery is as bad as ever.

This is where we went during this Diwali – Nannaj Bird Sanctuary, near Solapur, Maharashtra. The image at the beginning of this post is also from Nannaj.


Sands | കരിങ്കല്ല് 30 October 2009 at 5:07 am  

There is the same 'baksheesh' thing here as well.

It is called 'trinkgeld' : trink=drink, geld=money! :) .... money to drink.

I remember reading a long discussion in one of the forums - whether to give trinkgeld or not or how-much... etc.

But what was the occasion? Easter I guess.

Anyway needless to say, the services are all good here - whether it be newspaper/post/garbage-removal/etc.


The pictures make me jealous! :)

Indrani 30 October 2009 at 9:09 am  

You had a great trip. Lovely shots!

radha 30 October 2009 at 11:17 am  

Lovely pictures.

And true, here people expect baksheesh and tips ( restaurant) as if it is their right. They do not think that service is required at all. If a service is good, we would give willingly.
Thanks for dropping by at my blog.

AJ 30 October 2009 at 11:39 am  

Great you guys seemed to have enjoyed ur trip...:D great...nice post...keep up the good work guys..

Arun Meethale Chirakkal 30 October 2009 at 12:38 pm  

Nice to see you back after a long time. Hope you had a great time out there. You know where lies the problem: people tend to view such gestures as their right. You can see it everywhere, in almost all spheres of life.

The one who has loved and lost 31 October 2009 at 1:06 am  

I can never give out of happiness if people demand money .. especialy, as you described, if the people who are demanding are people you have rarely seen before.

Parted with 50 rs for Ganesha chathurthi and it was more of threatened robbery than a request for contributions. 20 kids in their late teens came and demanded a minimum of 50 rupees.

Anyways, guess you had a great Diwali out of the big city :)

Bindhu Unny 1 November 2009 at 5:25 pm  

Sands: So you know the money (trinkgeld) is going to be used for. :)
Thanks for being jealous. :)

Indrani: Thanks :)

radha: Thanks :)
Yes, even after offering poor service, some expect tips.

AJ: Thanks :)

Arun: Thanks :)
Yes, aware of rights while forgetting duty

Deepu: Thanks :)
I too don't like to give if people demand money. I never used to doante money for Ganesha Chathurthi while living in Chennai. My money would be used for blaring music whole night.
In Mumbai, so far no one had come with such demands. :)

Joseph Pulikotil 5 November 2009 at 8:57 pm  

Hi Bindhu:)


Giving tip is a normal habit here in Kochi during Onam. Watchmen, sweepers, postmen, electricians from the electricity board etc. expect to get some money. I generally give irrespective of the fact whether the service is good or bad. In fact when I moved into a new area I tipped the postman generously because I get quite a lot of payments and documents through post. I think now that postman expects to get money from me every time he sees me.

Bribery and corruption is part of the system here. I still remember when I went to the Trivandrum Govt. Secretariat some years back the lift operator wanted money to take me by the lift. The peon wanted money to move the file one table to another. But I suppose this is the case every where in India. To get my son's birth certificate in the Mucipal office in Bhopal I bribed the peon to get the job dome immediately.

Very interesting post and I almost forgot about the word baksheesh after I left Bhopal.

Very interesting post and lovely photos.

Have a wonderful day Bindhu:)

Bindhu Unny 5 November 2009 at 10:11 pm  

Joseph: Didn't know that postmen and KSEB electricians too expect Onam tip. I thought only maids and labourers are counted for this. Since my mother retired from Postal dept, I've a rough idea about postmen's salary. That's why I can't understand their begging mentality.

Sadly, bribes have become a part of our system. But the lift operator asking for money was too much. Where's all this headed to?


GMG 6 November 2009 at 2:57 am  

Hi Bindhu! Great post and a lovely blog you have here!

Thanks for your comments at Blogtrotter, which is showing you an incredible sea symphony of colours. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Anonymous 6 November 2009 at 6:33 pm  

simply beautifully captured shots...lovely!

Bindhu Unny 16 November 2009 at 9:00 pm  

GMG: Thanks :)
Sea symphony was lovely!

flyingstars: Thanks :)

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