Friday, June 28, 2013

Disaster in Devbhumi!







Bad things do happen in the world, like war, natural disasters, and disease. But out of those situations always arise stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things...Daryn Kagan

The American broadcast journalist has put in very perfect words the byproduct of natural calamities or disasters, as we can’t avoid them but it’s how we face them decides what we are! Unfortunately what is happening at the scene of northern India’s biggest natural calamity till now seems exactly opposite of the quote. By now we all have had enough of Uttarakhnad & Himanchal Pradesh's new updates as all media, news papers, TV channels are full of them. Every political party may it be ruling or opposition all are busy in suggesting rather blaming is proper word for this circus which we are witnessing after the calamity. At the same time all political who's who are keen to show how they are worried about the affected people & trying their best to help the same.
Effective media managers have been employed to leak the news of some leaders saving the trapped pilgrimages  that too from their States only & painting the image of the so called leader as Rambo! We read the news of some leaders from Andhra fighting over from whose plane the rescued people will travel & the "Karyakartas" literally torn the boarding passes of the poor passengers! The honorable Union Home Minister announced that so called VIP leaders should keep away from these areas as the rescue operation gets hampered & within twenty four hours when his own party big shots decided to visit he has to swallow his words back! And let me remind we are talking about national level figures here! I really wonder what kind of country we are living where every act is being made keeping an eye on vote bank, may it be rescue of trapped tourists or making a policy for avoiding disaster!

Also by now most of the social celebrities have given their comments about this disaster & we have witnessed some real heroic efforts also in saving the people in that area. Let me confess I am no disaster expert neither I am going to suggest anything about it nor I am a political critics, whatever I wrote in above para is a scene open to all citizens of this country & was just trying to share my feelings about the same. As right now media is full of so called experts who now claim that they have foreseen this disaster but how Govt has ignored it like stories. Also all sort of allegations right from deforestation to building wrong roads to as usual builders/hoteliers from Delhi building wrong way the structures are making headlines & how environment has been damaged over the years & finally innocent people paid for it type things also we read.

Common man in country often get carried by the media as that’s the only way for him to know about the situation at zero ground of any disaster & media guys knows this & they take full advantage of it & run the Flash News stories! And we enough "Netas" to feed them more fuel is also a fact. Here I like to mention disaster in Japan caused by Tsunami, those who have seen the footage will realize the difference between detailing & making affected people aware about the situation through the media. Never they glorified any individual neither false pictures of damage or figures were shown ever. This show how not only how ill prepared we are but how immature we as a society are to handle such disaster!

There will be as usual analysis for the vast damage & causes for the same; some committees will be set to do the job which indirectly is covering the failure of all concerned people. May it be issues like there wasn’t any Disaster Managing Committee was in existence which is mandatory nor any environmental clearance was taken for many infrastructural projects which eventually added up for the damage & deaths of so many & things like that. The debate will be on, few officers will be sacked which also eventually again will get established once the dust settles down. All things so familiar to we the Indian people, yet we feel each time something different will happen! I wanted to hit exactly this point, look at USA, just once the country got hit by terrorist attack & for ten years there wasn’t a single such incidence till last month’s Boston marathon blast!  Tsunami or Hurricanes is something no man can control yet Japan, USA & other countries installed warning systems for the same which has saved millions of life as well properties & this to we have witnessed in recent past.

Its not about causing ay natural disaster it’s how we face it is one thing & what we have learned from such disaster is second thing. And here is where we have repeatedly failed in our country. Disaster, may it be man-made like terrorist act or natural, if we are not going to be able to stop it but we can surely reduce its impact by a disciplined fall back arrangement. When States like Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh receives tourists in form of pilgrimage or sightseeing, numbers of which is thrice than the native population, then what kind of precautions have been taken for any such disaster, is a natural question which never has been asked by any of the concerned person. Kind of public health or medical facilities at each such place is the main issue in any calamity & which wasn’t in place at all. Also the alternate means of communications in such times was not ever thought & that has made the rescue operation more difficult. Agreed the entire terrain is hilly & road building is a tortures job but then many of the places become inaccessible because they had just one road to reach them & once that got washed away the entire locality was cut off from outer world. And again the civil supplies like food & medicines wasn’t stored in ample, many deaths have been caused by lack of these essential things.

Here I will say even the visitors or tourists were also a bit negligent as they too didn’t thought of keeping extra food or medicine or even cell chargers like things to avoid excess baggage which eventually cost many of them their life. We never think of taking training on our own of  proper evacuation in case of emergency. We read that when first flood hit the towns, after receiving the warnings of evacuation many tourists simply ran away from their shelters with just clothes on; not even thinking once that how they will survive in open without anything! Neither Govt takes any effort to train people for such things not we on our own are careful for the same. Here again if we remember the disciplined way Japanese people were evacuating their buildings in case of earthquake they will understand what I am referring to!

This disaster will impact the tourism of both these States very deeply, crippling the entire economy of the local which depends on the tourists. And that effect is more dangerous to face. I think such disasters have two outcomes on damage front, one is physical i.e. loss of life as well property & another is psychological. The second one is very silent but long lasting & it’s this damage in the minds of locals which needs to be dealt with utmost care. At such times we need a strong character to remain strong in extreme adverse conditions which unfortunately not only these states but entire country is lacking!

In all these chao most creditable thing was the discipline & dedication shown by our Army & Air force! A real hero never has to tell others that he is a hero & that’s what exactly our forces did. Till now except few press conferences by Air force Chief, not a single news about the tough job being carried by the "Jawans" has been published by the forces! Neither they mentioned the numbers of people they helped in rescuing nor the difficulties their own people faced during the entire operation, no words of how tough the task was, a real thankless job! I think not only our leaders but we all should learn from this attitude of our forces, as we all have a habit of blowing a small achievement to out of proportion where as the true achievers are always silent about their achievements. As Daryan Kagan has said lets salute the courage of these ordinary men who are fighting with the situation over there with extraordinary courage & strengthen them by our own acts, that’s the best way to face & learn from such disaster!

--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani ! (Click the links below)

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/


http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Friday, June 21, 2013

"REAL ESTATE REGULATORY BILL" , MAGIC WAND FOR REAL ESTATE?











Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws” ...Plato

Recently when I read the news about "The real estate regulation & development" bill for real estate, I remembered this quote by the great thinker. As many people asked my reaction about the news, even my parents who are teachers by profession & are always curious about what their builder son does in his business also showed the news to me. And they asked me " Is this going to make your professions image clean?", well I don’t know what this bill is going to do about the image of real estate or can it really regulate the shady profession but one thing is sure if we accept the truth in Plato's quote then it’s just one more vein effort by the Govt to make their own image clean in eyes of common man.

With nearly 70% of the political leaders in Metros involved by themselves or through their close relatives in real estate business, I always wonder whether real stringent laws can be made for this line & if made whether they will be implemented by the authorities? Because if you go through the content of the bill no doubt purpose is to check the illegal attitude of the developers but then the same has been in many of the present laws right from MRTP i.e. Maharashtra Regional town Planning Act to MOFA i.e. Maharashtra Ownership Flat Act. Agreed some modifications were necessary with the time but already there are so many regulatory authorities right from Municipal Corporations to Collector to town Planning, Urban Development Department & what not! Rather real estate is like child with many parents but no one taking full responsibility of the same! Because with so many authorities & acts in place yet each day we read about new scandal in real estate, may it be recent headlines of Shindewadi or a wall falling or may it be Thane building collapse, the basic problem remains.

As I have repeatedly mentioned that it’s not just a single builder's attitude towards his building but its attitude of the entire system towards the problem which is the main crux. Adding one more authority may be good for the Govt for making their own image a bit shining as to show they have done something for the common man & his problems towards housing but what about lacuna in strengthening the existing system? I will ask who has stopped them from doing that. As time & again bosses of the so called departments who are supposed to curb illegal tendencies in real estate have cried that they lack man power, funds to stop illegal trade practices in the industry & Govt has turned blind eye about the same is fact. Each time some wrong thing happen & the temporary bandage is being done but the main wound is spreading like a gangrene in entire society, what about that?

Why are we waiting for this regulatory bill to come in existence of which journey has just started. Knowing the speed with which our systems work it will be going to become one more hurdle in already NOC laden real estate industry is what I feel. Right now itself if a projects has to be started there are more than 30 different NOC's to be obtained from various regulatory bodies of Govt departments & it’s hell time consuming , making the end product extremely costly. Things like TDR generation are being done on snail's pace & all this is indirectly helping making the homes more costly & builders are being blamed for making the houses unaffordable which may be true in some way but isn’t it duty of Govt to check the way present system going on? Who are the so called builders after all? Like any other business community they too are doing their business by facing rather coping up with the current system. I am not saying all builders are saints or with morals but where you know you can get away by being immoral then why blame people for being so? It’s the system which allows them to get away & that system needs to be improvised not just making one more law about the same is going to help it.

And how many good developers opinion has been taken in drafting the so called regulatory bill? As if looked at some of the provisions in the bill then no sane developer will remain in business is fact. See this provision under the bill by which the developer has to spend 70% amount of the project sales on the same project! How this can be maintained especially when on one firms name number of projects are going on, how we can differentiate the accounting? Another thing is indirectly Govt is suggesting the gross profit per project should not be more than 30% but this is assumption that there will be profit, what about if there is downfall in market & the developer has to spend from his pocket then is the Govt going to take responsibility of the loss? No law can be made by considering every person is a criminal & unfortunately this particular bill has the tone saying all developers are criminal!

Many of the provisions says arrest of the developer even life imprisonment for violation of the conditions in contract with the flat holder but who is going to decide the violation & in what time? At each district level regulatory bodies will be formed in front of which any dispute between the client & the developer is supposed to go for judgment but when these bodies will be in operation & what like present man power limitation continues yet the act comes in existence? What the builders enrolled under the regulatory body will do? Classic example is Environment Clearance Certificate which is mandatory for projects over 2 lacs sq ft area; Here for nearly 4 years for entire Maharashtra there was just one clearing committee making the time required for this NOC popularly known as EC more than a year. That too just to start the project as without EC you can’t get commencement certificate from the local governing body. Means you buy the land with full payment upfront as  Govt don’t have the sanctioning system in place you wait for over one year just to launch your project! In such case is the Govt ready to take the responsibility of delays as well losses occurred by the same? And if anybody wants to challenge the decision by regulatory body at district level then he or she will have to go to Delhi for appeal, how many can afford that cost & time involved in the process? Also the Appellate Tribunal should have been given judicial authority or powers, which hasn’t been done, so what if any of the part goes to court? And what about all existing laws like MOFA?

And why this whole bill is needed to push forward now only? We amend something only when the existing systems fails even after utilizing the same at fullest level, but in this case has the systems being utilized at fullest? Rather even 10% utilization of present system has not been done. And this even a toddler in real estate business will tell. As every concerned department is short of man power & machinery & those who are in place, don’t use their authorities in time, reasons may be any. Sometimes it pressure from people in power or some times its wasted interests or sometimes it’s just negligence, so what guaranty that the same story won’t repeat? As the law may be new & the punishments more stringent but the same system & same people are there to implement this new law, what about them? Unless we don’t ask these questions & get the right answers till then it will be just another table to tackle for the developers who are bad. And one more hurdle in making better product for the good developers. No one will disagree about the present scenario in real estate & agreed the end user is least protected in compare with other industries but then who has stopped Govt to use the sword with present laws & provisions to punish the criminal mentality in real estate? How many responsible personnel’s may it be developers may it be officials has been punished under the present acts & provisions for the same? We all know the number toll & does it mean the present acts were so weak that no punishment was possible under the same for all the mishaps happened in real estate till now!

Doesn't the fault of being cheated by the developer lies somewhat with ignorant customers also, who books the flat without confirming the pedigree of the developer & just to save some rupees goes with a cheater attitude firm! The provision of mentioning carpet area of the flat is applicable even right now also under MOFA but then if the developer isn’t mentioning the same, then why the customer books flat with such developer? My experience is not even 5% of the customers study’s the agreement draft & even lesser who studies the draft asks questions about the provisions in the same. People behave in "penny like pound foolish" manner when their own home is at deal. There are licensed architects, structural engineers in market, no one demands the developer sanctioned plans or structural drawings & get them examined from these professions, just to save few rupees you are ready to make your entire life time investment at stake!

Remember no law or bill can get rid of criminals in any trade; it’s our own attitude towards such tendencies which is going to make the difference. As the wise man Plato has said, with whom we shake our hands will decide our faith, mind it! Till then we have to rely on things like regulatory bill is the sad part of our society!
--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani ! (Click the links below)

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life at Kanha!









Living is getting knocked down time and again, then standing up time and again, and once more. It's easy to act honorable when things are coming along and all your pastures are green. Plenty difficult when the ground is dried and burned and people have connived to take even that from you....
Nancy Turner.



Each time I visit places like Kanha these words echo’s in my mind by the great writer as it's not just the forest which I visit but it’s the people around that forest also, mainly those who are responsible to keep that forest alive for us & their lives also depends on that forest. Many of them know it & are dedicated to the forest; life is indeed difficult but these guys hold on & keep fighting. Forest has something to offer new on every trip, on every safari we took, provided we should be ready to absorb it. Most of the tourists which visits forest are there to see the tiger & nothing wrong as the animal has a special charm in its personality & by now in my so many trips all around the forest over India, I have seen hundreds of time the tiger yet each sighting has its own charm & thrill. This time also my Kanha trip didn’t disappointed me rather had some wonderful sightings of cubs with their mother, a rare scene at Kanha. Usually the cubs as young as six months of age rarely come in open & to get them so was some experience. Each trip rather safari in forest makes you crave for another & that’s the beauty of forest. One needs enough patience is equally important & what better we can learn from forest than be patient & let nature plays its role as an anchor. May it be tiger cubs or a small bird like blue fly catcher every sighting has its own thrill & beauty, rather to chase a bird is more difficult than to chase a tiger as there are no alarm call or pug marks to guide you towards the same.

After so many tiger sightings I have concluded one thing, to chase the tiger through alarm calls of spotted dear, languor, sambar even crows who are waiting near the kill is more thrilling than even to sight the tiger. It’s a thing to experience how the environment in forest changes with mere presence of one animal; all become alert & change the mode of behavior. I think this is what keeps the tourists & the entire system going. With all regulations after Supreme Court on wild life tourism, yet the national parks are becoming more popular destination & on one side its good sign of awareness of urban population regarding wild life conservation still how many of them are there for real care of forests is a matter of study. Over recent past my subject of interest isn’t just the forest & animals but as I mentioned above it’s the entire system which revolves around forest mainly the tiger. And many die hard forest lovers won’t like it but it’s always better to accept the fact & then try solutions than denying the facts & then looking for solution. Right from the first morning tea before safari at dhaba to gipsy to ticketing counter to drivers to guides, all are engaged in one conversation "Kal kidhar sighting hui?" means yesterday where & who saw the tiger? So the plans of track & routes get decided. Agreed in this zest the main object gets neglected but this same urge for having a glimpse of tiger we can use to make visitors aware about the survival of the specie.

For that we need to make entire system get more exposed to the visitors , so he or she can understand the term forest in larger context & not restricting their role just as a visitor but a participant in true means for the conservation of the forest. And my this sharing is especially to focus this hidden aspect of the forests as right from the "chaywala" i.e. tea maker at the dhaba to the boy working at tea stall to gipsy driver, guides, guards in forest & even senior forest officials like rangers & director; these all are some way responsible to conserve the forest & help visitors to explore the same. And when we visit the forest we need to understand that visiting such places for 3- 4 days is fine but it takes hell of life when we have to face the same days after days for years. For instance look at few of the characters I met at Kanha & you will understand what I mean.

Meet Manglu, age 16 years, he is a tea maker at dhaba near Khatiya gate. The gate opens at 5.30am in morning & the rush of drivers , tourists , guides & forest gate staff starts right from 4.30am, so he has to be up by 3.30am & be ready to make his tea preparations since then with his assistant Snatram, age 10 years & from nearby village. Santram goes to local Zilah Parishad School & as its summer holiday he has taken this job to make some money during holidays. It’s this extra money which will help his family back at village. When all other city boys of their age are holidaying with their parents or just lazying in bed  these two have to be awake from 3.30 am in morning & slog themselves to give hot tea to all concerned with the park & they themselves have never been in forest as they can’t afford the safari charges! They event don’t have decent clothes to keep them warm in harsh winter of Kanha. Its similar scene with number of hotel boys who are engaged in making breakfast at various hotels, who has to work till late night so as to clean up the dinner leftovers from tourists & yet to wake up very early for making their mornings comfortable.

Same is the story of Pratap or Anup who are drivers of gipsy which takes the tourists for safari. The gipsy drivers should also have to be at the hotels to pick up the tourists & make them arrive on time at the forest entry gate, as there are always chances of sighting the tiger in early morning hours. And for this they have to wake up at 3am in morning get the vehicle update & bring the same to hotel, then to collect the entry form of the forest & complete the formalities so the tourists are allowed in the forest. And then drive the vehicle for hours through extreme weather on uneven roads of Kanha with utmost care not to allow any mishap during the drive.

Story of guides like Ashok, Pukhraj, Mallusing isn’t different. They too have to adjust their routines as per the park hours & sat in open gipsy for hours & keeping keen eye around to see the moments of birds & animals around & to explain about them to the tourists. At the same time the guide has to face the enthusiasm of tourist for having a look at the tiger & even face the anger of the tourists if they can’t see one. It’s a forest spread over thousands of kilometers & to locate one tiger in the same isn’t an easy job, yet relentlessly the guide has to do it for the tourist as they think when they have paid  200 rupees for the guide then they own him & it’s his job to show them the tiger!

Then comes the forest guards like Tomar or Mangalsing which includes the one who has to stay inside forest, few of them are on gate & then even mahawats i.e. the one who sits on elephant & keep an eye on tiger as well other animals. All these people are exposing to life threat while performing their duty as its not only tiger that can attack while they are on guard but there are snake bites or even animals like bison or bear that can be dangerous in forest. Also there is always danger of falling sick due to infections through drinking water or diseases like malaria which can be caused by mosquitoes which are abundant in forest. For most of the guards one shift is of 24 hours & for that whole time he has to remain alone at his post deep within forest with his only contact with outer world is a walky- talky i.e. wireless radio. Imagine dark forest around you on a pitch black night & you are all alone, I don’t think even a single tourist can stand to this condition leave apart enjoying it.

The life of senior officers at forest isn’t also that easy as they are answerable to so many things like forest fires too death of any forest animal or attack by them on adjoining villagers. Media has become very sensitive & even a smallest event gets global at places like Kanha & can cost the concerned officer his job!  

And above names are just a few which I came across , there are hundreds of manglus, santrams, ashoks, prataps & tomars who are doing their thankless job at Kanha & for year after year without any holiday as they can’t afford one. Many will say what’s big deal doesn’t all of them get paid for their jobs? Well yes but look at the kind of remuneration these people are getting against the kind of job they have to do? Cups of tea gets sold at Rs 5 per cup & just imagine, how many of cups needs to be sold so as boys like Manglu & Santram could get decent education & warm clothes for them. Ask how a guide can survive his entire family in Rs 200 per trip with rotation system in existence, means there isn’t surety that each guide will get to go for a safari every day, so he isn’t assured about even the Rs 200 a day for entire month! Look at the kind of salary as well infrastructure the forest guards are getting & the task as huge as saving the tiger from poachers to villagers by exposing their lives at danger! I think it’s these questions a tourist should ask to himself than just the usual one about the tiger sighting. As then only we can think about our responsibility in the forest conservation. It’s very easy to book the safari on line, to get checked in a decent hotel, get picked up by gipsy with warm clothes to wear & hot cup of tea along with well packed breakfast, a guide to explain you about the forest & the only job left is to look around & enjoy the beauty of forest!

Friends, if you are like these tourists who come for a tiger snap & go back with it & forgets every other thing they saw at forest, then I will say you haven’t seen the real forest as real forest isn’t having a good sighting of tiger & clicking its snaps but real forest lies in all such people who makes it possible for you to have a sight of the tiger. Its these people whose behind the curtain hardship makes our forest trip memorable, so isn’t it our duty to make their life also somewhat comfortable by our contribution? Don’t ask what you can do for them but ask whether you really have understood this side of forest? As if you get the answer of this question then rest things will automatically follow.  

The story may be about Kanha but it’s applicable to all the forest or parks around the country & many such Manglu’s & Ashok’s need a helping hand so as they will realize that they are not alone in the fight of surviving forests! And as Nancy Turner says, ground has been burnt for these people, it’s our turn to make it green for them, then only we deserve to enjoy the sights of forest or else we will join the wagon of forest destructors by not doing anything for those who are doing their share to conserve this treasure for us!

( Btw just sharing as somewhere someone can take more initiative after reading this. We at Sanjeevani are always trying to share our responsibility for the cause & this time

we have provided rain suits to kanha forest guards. In past also we have been doing this by providing safty shoe, winter clothes to forest staff. We are working of doing similar support things for guides of kanha also.)


--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani ! (Click the links below)

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Sunday, June 2, 2013

USA , dream land's lesser know side!










America is another name for opportunity… Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In the minimum words the great writer has described the nation about which one may have any opinion but most of us have a fascination for it is a fact. From all over the world people have come here for making their future & more have aspiration to do so or get a chance to come here. Least of all most have a wish to visit the country & see the way the nation has raised to greatness, people are curious about size of development the country has achieved & why not, right from Disney Land to Casino’s in Vegas to Hoover Dam to Empire State each structure here has been a landmark for generation too come. I am lucky enough for being visited the country a couple of time & for a long duration but this time it was very different. First the cause I went, its illness of my wife who has been admitted to Buffalo City Hospital during her pleasure trip with my kids, second I have visited last nearly 15 years back, third this time I stayed at single place that too in a comparatively small town like Buffalo for 15 days & fourth is more important as now no more America is a wealthy country especially its going to one of the darkest patch when measured on economic scale.

All these things does made my more interesting tour though the mood of the trip wasn’t cheering due to the cause I been there but I took it as an opportunity to look at the real American life more closely. Another important factor was Buffalo doesn’t have any so called American tourists delight thing i.e. no casinos, either any monumental historic buildings like Boston or Washington are there nor any grand tourists attractions like Disney land or Universal studio. Niagara is close by but with hundreds of hotels there now hardly any one stays at Buffalo for visiting Niagara. So it’s just a typical old city with a get way to Canada from America.  It has retained its charm through miles of calm & quite roads with Victorian houses aligned all along the roads & trees making it very scenic & cozy town. There are few sky scrapers in down town & a fantastically designed city hall building by famous architect Sullivan which is center of the down town. What was important is there are number of churches or various size & style but immaculately maintained, making me remember condition of our heritage structures back in Pune.

As most of my time I needed to spend in hospital & the chilling wind at 2 degree temperature made it impossible to walk in mornings I used the gym of hotel for my walks & right from there I started to have exposure of manners or American society. Many of us know that in USA everybody even unknown persons greet each other when get crossed in lobbies or lifts & they courtly inquire with “ Hey, how are you doing? “ type question with a smile. And there is exchange of some humorous dialogue about weather or the day or even the job at hand. Very simple & small thing but it keeps the atmosphere of public places alive. And on the stark contrast back in our country we don’t even smile to our neighbors in the lift in our own building where we reside. The hospital exposure was also some experience, the surprises started right from checking in Hilton Double Tree Hotel which is right across the road of Buffalo City Hospital; when mentioned that I am here for medical purpose of my wife’s illness immediately the booking clerk informed I will get 60% discount on the room tariff & he directly gave it to me without asking for any confirmation from the hospital. At the same time he charged another checking in customer with regular room rent who was on business trip & what’s most important thing was neither the customer objected nor he said I too am here for medical purpose! It’s this transparency & self discipline which I was about to witness for next fifteen days. Not only that after that every day when I am returning to hotel the staff on counter at lobby used to enquire about how my wife is doing & give our wises to her type greetings! Then next thing I encountered was civic sense, in gym when I was waiting for a guy working out to get down from treadmill, he first wiped out all the treadmill by his napkin to clean it any sweat from his workout & then allowed me to use the treadmill! I just remembered at the soaked in sweat equipments back in my gym & people just leaving them that way after using. I always wonder who taught the common man over there such manners & how come it’s been in everyone around? And why we can’t cultivate such things in our society as it doesn’t cost any money. We can’t keep even our public toilets clean & here people are taking efforts to keep the cleanest places more cleanly! At the same time I learn something new also about the manners while moving around; I was awaiting my taxi outside of hotel & was leaning on a car parked by, the doorman politely asked me “Is it your car sir?” I replied no, it’s not mine, on that he suggested “Sir then please don’t lean against it as the owner may not like doing so!”  And here people does scratch mark on the cars parked alongside the road instead caring such small things about others property. Same is while photographing even pets like dog in public areas. You are supposed to ask for the permission about clicking the snaps of a cute dog with it's owner. To which most owners happily agrees but to ask before you click is important manner.

The Buffalo Hospital is a different world by itself; the massive 16 storied building has thousands of rooms treating all type of patients across the globe but no where you can see the regular chaos of big public place especially in the hospital. The environment along with the decor & colors is surprisingly jovial & cheering than a regular gloomy one at our end. There was a big stature of Buffalo made of clay in the main lobby at ground floors & it has been painted by various visitors & some have even drawn ECG's on it! In each floor lobby there was a board where patients & their relatives can share there experiences about the hospital in words or even in from of sketches too. I too write a letter to entire ICU staff where Ashwini was admitted & put it on her room wall from outside & not only here nurse read it but she made all the staff to read it & they all thanked me for the kind words I have used for them! Very small thing but makes the whole affair homely & interactive & from where I got the idea but from the hospital! Disciplined the system is, as everyone follows the rules of timings of visiting hours without having argument with the monitoring staff, making their job easy. Here in USA the law which I came to understand is the hospital has to treat any patient who comes for admission & once admitted the patient is in their custody. The doctor decides what to do & when to discharge the patient & human life has highest priority. At the hospital premise every public toilet block had separate arrangement for patients, visitors & staff, to avoid delay for the needy ones. Same was with arrangement like lifts & no one was using other categories facilities was more important! There we can’t meet doctor on our wish but there is a fixed time & that to in a conference room where only the doctor in charge meets the relatives of patients & answers their all questions about the patients health. The timings to meet the patient are less & that’s in interest of the patient only, so as he or she gets total rest. Though we managed to bypass some of the rules under the cover that we are coming from all the way from India & our patient isn't used to keep isolated, which they did accepted. No advance payment or things like that demanded ever during entire treatment was one more sweet surprise. The staff was over supporting & there was a separate team for guiding us what to do after discharge & things like accommodation, which helped us to find a guest house nearby to cook food needed by Ashwini's diet standards. Only sad part was there nobody visits the patients even in ICU unless its weekends. It’s so saddening to see patients lying all alone day long without any visitors. Agreed they should get rest but the visitors who are friends, relatives do boost the moral & spirit of the patient is also equally true. And the entire ICU staff was amazed with our presence all the time around Ashwini & they did used to mention her that how lucky she is  for having so caring family. This was mainly they knew we have come from so far & just for being with her, an act which is out of their imagination.

While moving around in spare time, the huge malls without customers was a sure sign of economic slump of the country & surprisingly Indians are being respected with much wider smiles as by now they have realized our buying power & treated as potential buyers of even costly goods. In front of most of the lovely bungalows signs of "To Sale “or "To Rent" were there, yet another sign of down fall in real estate but even their recession has a grace & the gap between rich & poor is not as wide as we have. And they are facing with smile the recession with a hope that it will pass on soon. The city sleeps very early by our standard & it was a tough time for us at night to search a hotel serving food after 10 pm.

The entire experience made me compare our day to day living & theirs as here no money was involved. We don’t need money to smile at the passerby & to greet him, neither we have to spend something exorbitant to keep our own surrounding clean, all what matters is an attitude to make my environment somewhat better. That’s exactly we are lacking day by day. We don’t mind in peeing on empty footpaths or spitting on clean pavements of public places leave apart cleaning them. How rich or wealthy a country is, isn’t decided just by terms like GDP but by the behavior of the people in that country as civilization is nothing but the way we treat each other’s & our surrounding. I have decided to clean my treadmill after I do my workouts when I come back from Buffalo, at least that’s a start towards a better me. After all when we say seeing the world, it doesn’t mean visiting popular places & click the snaps & post it on FB to prove that you have been there but it means what difference it has made in our behavior after visiting the world & that is what decides what we have actually seen! And as Emerson has said even our own country too can be turned in to land of opportunities provided we learn to see one!


--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


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