ढूंढते रह जाओगे!

“Many years back there used to be an ad for some detergent remember where the lady of the house boomed with pride ‘ढूंढते रह जाओगे’ when her husband found no stains on his shirt. Do you remember that?” asked Jigneshbhai while sipping his coffee last weekend.

Swami and I met our broker friend Jigneshbhai had after a really long time, almost as if searching for an occasion.

I did remember that ad and a quick search on his phone by Swami got the video, and he showed it to our broker friend.

After watching it quickly, Jigneshbhai exclaimed, “Yes – ढूंढते रह जाओगे – she said.”

“It looks like a lot of people are searching for things they aren’t going to find in a hurry” he continued as he took another sip.

Swami and I looked at him waiting for an explanation, but as usual our broker friend kept silent and kept us waiting.

As usual, Swami was the first to lose his patience. He erupted “Who is searching for what and what aren’t they finding?”

“A lot of people!” remarked Jigneshbhai looking up from his newspaper and pointed out. “For one, the government is searching for the दाग of black money and still not finding it!” He showed us the numbers released recently which showed that almost all currency notes were returned to banks after demonetization.

He continued “For another, the RBI is searching for the दाग of fake currency and still not finding it!”

Swami and I looked at our broker friend. Swami asked, “But they got so much cash in the banks and data and now know who has how much cash, and I am sure they will catch the crooks!”

Jigneshbhai had a faint smile. “That’s another search, the income tax authorities are still searching for the दाग of those who have black money and still not finding them!”

Swami was not convinced. “They will, isn’t it? Demonetization has increased the tax base and collections, isn’t it?” he asked.

My broker friend was silent for a bit. But he added quickly. “Possibly” he said. “But that’s another search, maybe a treasure hunt, for another day” he added.

Swami was a bit irritated by Jigneshbhai by now as always. “It’s alright. But in the long-term, it will lead to growth in the economy and even the stock markets are up” he asserted.

“Well – that’s truly another treasure hunt. The public’s search for jobs and development! And the investor’s search for value in the markets!” he said in a sly, furtive manner.

Swami was angry by now. “But it has put a fear in the minds of the crooks and left all the politicians from the opposition stumped.”

My broker friend kept silent for a while again. Finally he said. “Now that is true. It has stumped the opposition. They are searching for a smarter politician and still not finding him. It’s a very tough search for the opposition – they are truly ढूंढते रह जाओगे!” laughed Jigneshbhai loudly.

And that seemed to have made Swami happy too, who broke into laughter too.

After a long time, I had seen Swami and Jigneshbhai laugh this way even as they were having their usual tussle. I myself wasn’t quite sure – like always which side I was on.

Just as we were enjoying the last sip of coffee in the middle of this laughter, the wise man in the sprawling bungalow (who always spoke little and in a cryptic manner) was watching our conversation and dropped in. And he stopped us in our tracks as he said,

“ढूंढते रह जाओगे for the दाग of black money is fine for now, but I hope the search continues with the same ferocity, and leads to some real development. Because that’s why we elected this government in the first place. Remember the same ढूंढते रह जाओगे marketing company came back a few years later and told us दाग अच्छे है!”


Didi’s Comedy Show

“I remember watching Didi’s comedy show on Doordarshan when we were kids on Saturday afternoons” said my broker friend Jigneshbhai as we were having our coffee yesterday.

didiSwami got excited as he remembered it. “Yes, it was such a hit show. I used to wait for it – that guy made all kinds of faces and antics, I remember. But he made us laugh.”

“Yes – the detective who thought he was smart, but always got into trouble, or got others into trouble with his ‘brilliant’ ideas” explained Jigneshbhai. He continued, “I remember an episode in which he takes part in a hammer throwing competition, and forgets to release the hammer; and gets pulled into the sky. Remember seeing many episodes like that.”

Getting a bit nostalgic, Swami said “Yeah – I wish they got it back. Non-stop non-sense it was also called, I think.”

“There is a new kind of Didi’s comedy show going on off late, isn’t it? I mean, it is not very different, I guess. Every time you think you are doing something smart, and every time either you get into trouble or get others into trouble!” remarked Jigneshbhai.

I wasn’t quite clear on what my broker friend was referring to, though I got an inkling that it may be something to do with the Presidential elections. I was wondering how something as important as the Presidential elections had anything to do with a comedy show.

My wise broker friend was on his own trip, though. “It looks like they are mixing कौन बनेगा राष्ट्रपति and Didi’s Comedy Show. And relaying it live on all news channels for the past couple of days. It is good entertainment, nevertheless”, he remarked as he broke into a smile.

Just then the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow walked by past our table. We seem to be bumping into him and his cryptic thoughts often nowadays.

Pointing at my broker friend with a look of warning, he said “But you could afford to forget about Didi’s Comedy Show happily after a few laughs then. It is not the same this time. Remember, Didi’s Comedy Show used to be on Saturday afternoons, and after the Non stop Nonsense, the next day morning we used to have the महाभारत!”

A Few Stray Thoughts (all my own work)

For those who grew up or lived in Mumbai (it was Bombay then) in the late 80’s or 90’s, and read ‘The Afternoon’, specially in local trains, this post will sound familiar.

busybeeAnd for a Saturday, a few stray thoughts and a few general observations and a few points of view (all my own work):

Like Shah Rukh Khan should probably stay at home for a few days. A slap, a blow and a shoe, and now I wonder what’s next?

Like however badly he behaves, banning SRK from Wankhede is like banning Tendulkar from Red Chillies Productions’ Studios. It hardly makes any difference.

Like after the government has increased petrol prices, I don’t understand what is worse, increasing diesel prices or not increasing them.

Like I also don’t understand why there is always a queue at the petrol pumps on the evenings when the petrol price hike is announced. And while some people in the queue joke about petrol being bought on EMIs, I often see BMWs and Mercs also in the queue.

Like I am unable to decide what is worse, Mamata Banerjee embarrassing the government or Mulayam Singh Yadav supporting it.

Like next Thursday is probably going to be a holiday due to a Bharat Bandh after a long time. And that all parties agree on this one thing. Even Anna Hazare does.

Like while every one agrees on the Bharat Bandh, no one agrees on the presidential candidate. It looks like they are playing Kaun Banega Rashtrapati.

Like even if no one could be luckier than the Chennai Super Kings in this year’s IPL, you still have to make that luck count.

Like when every one (including me) says IPL is not real cricket, and I don’t think I will miss it after it ends this week, yet I don’t understand why I find myself watching IPL in the evening.

And this final point of view: That this post is neither a copy nor an imitation, but a tribute. Thank you, Busybee.

Of Quotes and Learnings, From Investors and Hindi Movies

“The problem with famous people and their quotes is that I don’t understand which one to apply when.” Swami remarked, as he walked in for our coffee meeting with a disappointed, confused face. He had a book of quotes with him.

“Is India a leaky boat?” he asked suddenly. Surprised, I looked up to my broker friend for a reply, as I did not understand the question.

But Swami continued. “I read in this book that Warren Buffett once said that if you perennially find yourself in a leaky boat constantly fixing patches, it is better if you devote energy to changing the boat rather than fixing the patches. So I was wondering with all our problems currently, is India a leaky boat?”

Jigneshbhai, my broker friend, maintained a studied silence.

On getting no response, Swami peeped into his book and read out. “He also said that when a management with a good reputation joins a bad business, it is the reputation of the business that stays. So is India a bad business?”

Again, Jigneshbhai maintained a studied silence, perhaps not quite sure what to say.

Meanwhile, Swami was in his own world of quotes and learnings.

He continued. “But he also says that we only attempt to be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy. So is it time for me to be greedy or fearful?”

Swami’s questions were relentless. Jigneshbhai’s silence was unending. Swami continued.

“And there is also a quote where he says that it is better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price, rather than a fair company at a wonderful price. So in the current situation, which one is India and its companies? I am getting confused.”

laugh2He was just not stopping and Jigneshbhai was just not speaking. His studious silence was not making things easy for Swami.

Just then, I noticed that the wealthy man in the palatial bungalow who lived next to me was also sitting in the coffee shop. He must have heard our conversation – actually Swami’s monologue – for a while. We had known from earlier interactions that he speaks little, and whenever he does it is cryptic.

He had probably finished his coffee, and while leaving, he walked up to Swami and smiled.

“अब इन्हें दवा की नहीं दुआ की ज़रूरत है. So wait for the miracle.”

As he walked away, I could see that the wealthy man and Jigneshbhai were looking at each other and sharing a smile.

तू कितने बरस का? The Confusion about Date of Birth

When the Supreme Court eventually decided that the Army Chief is actually going to be 60 this year though he will not really be 60 years old, it was a mature decision from a wise judiciary which knew how messy it would get if it went into documentation arguments.

But a senior citizen uncle of mine was disappointed. “When he is saying he was born in 1951, how can they say that he was born in 1950 because the army records say so? Army records recorded the wrong date of birth” he complained. “There are so many people who have this problem in our generation” he continued. “At that time there was no municipality. Even I have two dates of birth; one in June and another in December of the same year.”

His elder brother, also close to 70 joined the conversation. “Yes, when he was born, all that everyone remembers is that it was a day of fast and everyone was on a fast.” As he dug out the story from his memory, I could see a smile on his face. “Now which fast it was, no one knows for sure. So they got two certificates made later, one for the fast in June, another for the fast in December.”

I had heard many such funny instances earlier. Someone had told me that his father was born on a Holi, but no one bothered to note the date. So they kept celebrating his birthday on Holi every year, only to find out when he was five that his date of birth was required for school admission. So then they back calculated.

Another friend told stories of some relative’s father changing his date of birth from a date in 1946 to some date in 1947, because the government had announced some benefits for children born around independence.

Stories of date of birth being different in different documents were plentiful, not just from the old days, but even from the relatively recent past.

“My birth certificate says one thing and my school leaving certificate says something else” a friend had said during admission to college. “My mother claims the school leaving one is right.” I had thought then that he should not contest his mother’s claims on his date of birth. So his entire education recorded the school leaving certificate’s date as his date of birth.

I met him a few years later when he told his story. “It was fine for a while. But then I had to apply for a passport for which I had to submit my birth certificate and graduation certificate, both of which showed different dates.”

When I asked him what he did, he explained. “Well, they asked me to go back to the municipality in which I was born and get the date of birth corrected on my birth certificate, based on my school leaving certificate, and some affidavit from my hospital of birth.”

So now you know how things go awry. Getting an affidavit some 25 years after his birth did not sound like an encouraging or a realistic proposition. Obviously, he got a passport done with his wrong date of birth from his birth certificate.

And then his story continued. He needed an election voter’s card, which listed school leaving certificate as one of the many documents accepted.

“So they put my school leaving certificate’s date as my date of birth on the voter ID card.”

So I asked him what does he do, with two different official birth dates? “I use them based on convenience and whatever works.” He said that he had met my ‘uncle with two dates of birth’ once at a family function and had taken his advice.

“Do what I do. Thank God that there is no confusion about your name. And celebrate your birthday twice a year!”

The Funny Side of Familiarity: Why we love our ‘area’!

“Somehow the milk here seems to have too much water” said my friend’s mother, while serving us tea. Having spent most of her life in Mumbai, she had come over to my friend’s place in Bangalore for a few days. Her identity, for all practical purposes, was not just linked to being from Mumbai, but went further to being from the suburb of Vile Parle, and she often underscored that she meant Vile Parle (East).

Her son (and my friend), a Mumbai-ite for all practical purposes, had moved to Bangalore a few years back. His wife, also a Mumbai-ite, having never lived outside, used to have similar complaints back then.

“You don’t even get decent vada-pav here. And they put carrot in the chaat here. Amazing!” I remember her saying that a few years back. She used to  complain to another friend’s wife, a Bangalore-ite, who argued “That is how it tastes best”. Finally, she had found solace in a third friend’s wife, a Delhi-ite, who complained, “Yeah – you have no idea how bad the Alu Tikki is.”

I don’t know whether it is familiarity or genuine liking. Or just pure habit. But most people who live in a place for long enough seem to take a liking to things associated with it. And this is not limited to countries or cities. It extends to suburbs, areas, even neighbourhoods.

A friend who lived in Jayanagar 5th Block in Bangalore for a few years says he just cannot quite imagine living anywhere else, even in Bangalore because “the people here are so friendly”.

I used to have friends in Mumbai who liked where they lived for all kinds of reasons. A friend was proud of living in Borivali because “all fast trains stopped here.” Another one loved Thane because “it had an identity of its own.” Those living on the Western Line boasted about it to those on Central Line. If you lived in Andheri (East), you could never live in Andheri (West) and vice versa.

Familiarity with one place meant discomfort with another.

Sometimes this extends to office places also. I once had a colleague who was extremely fond of his work desk. He was so possessive about it that he had tied his chair to the desk with locked wire. Nobody dared to ask him to move elsewhere.

A rearrangement in work place allocations is a nightmare that many people are not prepared for. Complaints abound from “being on the 1st floor is so convenient, I save time that others spend in the lift” to “this desk faces the window, so it hits me when the sun sets” to “the canteen in my earlier building was so much better.”

A friend and his wife, used to shopping at a particular place in his neighbourhood, accompanied me and my wife to a store in the area that we live in. “The vegetables here don’t look that fresh” his wife remarked.

A colleague from Chennai staying for a few days in Mumbai complained “The auto-rickshaw fellows here take me for a ride.” I heard him say later “I think the potholes on the roads here are also a bit against me.”

But the best was when I went with him to the beach. “Quite a lot of mud in the water” he remarked. “Yeah” I agreed. Then I realized how much he loved his ‘area’ when he said, “But the mud here is not the same as the mud on our beach.”

Maid for Each Other: The Secret Sauce of Marital Harmony

“I washed the dishes today” my father-in-law proudly proclaimed, when we visited them.

“That’s just today, what about me washing them for the past three days?” jutted my mother-in-law, claiming her rightful place under the sun.

“Yes. By the way, we need to get that floor swab tomorrow. Do you know where you get it nearby?” he asked me earnestly.

“No – don’t try that. Let’s look for an alternative tomorrow” my wife interjected, recognizing the risks.

“That’s what I have been telling him since morning” the mother-in-law continued. “But he just does not take any effort to get another maid” her complaint continued.

“I have been trying. But these security people don’t respond to my requests. How else do I get a maid? Am I a head hunter?” my father-in-law defended himself.

My son started wondering what’s wrong with his grandparents. They looked made for each other normally. But he, like my wife and I, soon realized that the reason for their ‘special love talk’ today was clearly the maid. Or let’s say the lack of a maid. For the past few days.

Couples fight over different things at different stages in life, I guess. Newly married couples fight over in-laws and whether they should tolerate each other’s parents any longer. A few years later perhaps, they start fighting over whose job or whose career is more important if both are working. A few years down the line it is, perhaps, over which house to buy, and then, over children and how to raise them.

But I guess one thing that runs through as a common thread over the years is domestic chores and who does what. The activities of house cleaning, dish washing and other countless related activities stay there, and don’t disappear. And the house maid is a third-party solution that all parties concerned are comfortable with. A maid is a solution to multiple problems that couples face at different stages in life.

Young couples get more quality time due to maids. Middle aged couples get more peace of mind due to maids. And Old age couples get respite from each other due to maids. NRI couples return to India due to maids. Migrating couples leave India in tears, because they will have no maids. A lot of matrimonial harmony can be attributed to the stable presence of a maid in the household. Even unmarried singles swear by their maids to keep their houses clean and their health fine. I am not sure, but nowadays smart girls may choose to marry responsible boys who have maids already employed before marriage.

So all in all, for couples, everything goes smoothly when the maid is around. Till she inevitably goes missing. ‘Short Absconds’ typically happen once every 2-3 weeks. And the ‘Full Absconds – probably to greener pastures or God knows where’ happens once every few months. The IT Industry would pride itself in its attrition rates if we start measuring Maid Attrition. A maid that has stayed with you for a full year is worth her weight in platinum, or gold – whichever is more expensive. And she knows that.

So here is a lesson for all husbands and perhaps, even prospective grooms. Tell your wife, mother, mother-in-law and every other woman in the house to take care of the maid. She is a resource that is valuable. And priceless. Tell your wife to treat her well. Tell your mother or mother-in-law to act like a head hunter and keep a close watch on other maids in the locality, just in case.

Else, imagine a sink full of dishes waiting to be washed every morning. Imagine learning the art of floor swabbing without bending your back. Imagine dusting the house every few days. And finally, imagine an irritated wife almost all the time.

So if you are a couple that is made for each other, invest in a maid for each other. It will pay off in the long run.

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