“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


As I tap this out sitting in my room, P and her student are at the PC in the drawing room; the boy has come for his thesis correction. Harish was to come yesterday evening; P had postponed other things to do. Not only he didn't turn up but did not call P till late evening. I had heard her 'giving him nice' ( this is a convent school phrase, I believe).

P came to me a few minutes ago. Hush hush she told me about the boy. He is doing his MSc Botany Final year. His father was an autorickshaw driver. The only sister was married off along with the 10 cents of family property. Harish lives in a thatched house in the rural suburb of Trivandrum. Father's secondhand auto was bought a few years ago; the loan is still outstanding. One fine day, the father climbed a coconut palm ( the going labour charge in Trivandrum is Rs.60/- plus one nut per palm) so that he could save the labour charge and promptly fell down, breaking his back and arm. Bedridden, he is now.

Come rains, the thatched roof gave away. Harish borrowed Rs.25,000/- to put tin sheets. His sister who lives elsewhere gave her gold bangle to him to pledge. The old auto is due for renewal of registration and the patch up and repair would cost more than Rs.20,000/-.

Harish, in between his studies at the College, makes about Rs.1,000/- taking private tuition for school children. In between he also goes around in a bicycle distributing home-made snacks and fries to bakeries and petty shops. In between Harish drives the auto ( expired registration). Mom is sick. Dad in bed. Sole breadwinner is our Harish. Yesterday evening he was going around in the auto; got a good fare, it seems and hence couldn't come for thesis correction. P bought books for Rs.1500/- for him last year. Psst, P asked, do we have any good shirt that belongs to K which I can give to Harish? ( K, my son, btw has had a lateral widening in the last few months). And Parvati says Harish is her best student.

2. P has been going around without a watch since some time. The drawers of her table carry substantial number of irreparable, irredeemable chronometers. Yesterday we went watch-shopping. Had done a prior survey in watchkart and flipkart. In the showroom, we look at the glittering, garish watches. I hate the colour of yellow metal and recommend steel or leather strapped simple elegant watches. P looks at me and says I don't wear a gold bangle or studs. Let me at least have a gold look alike watch, an ornament. I like one that costs around Rs.5,000/-. P says nothing more than Rs.2,000/-. We return home without buying one. Maybe we will go again one of these days. While in the Mall, P suggests that I get a new pair of floaters. Mine is well past expiry date. The Mall has all branded stuff - from Adidas to Woodlands, costing a minimum of R.1800/- I tell P that I will buy a hand made footwear that will set me back by Rs 350/- . Not that I am stingy, but I feel it is a crime to spend 2000 bucks on a pair of sandals.

3. I read in today's newspaper that Prithviraj, the actor had paid Rs.3.5 lakhs for a fancy number for his Porche'. Got another fancy number for another car quite cheap at 25000/ or 50000/ , I don't remember. Nothing wrong in riding in a Porche'. Nothing wrong in paying 3,50,000/- rupees for a registration number 7777. Nothing bloody wrong. But I wish Prithviraj would go around in a random numbered car and donate that 3,50,000/- to some needy people? Kids in Attappady are dying, Prithvi, of malnutrition. People are dying, like flies, with fever.

************ Balachandran 12.06.2013, Trivandrum


  1. you are invited to follow my blog

  2. Pricks my conscience on modus vivendi.

    1. My idea was to present a view of the three financial classes - low, middle and upper. One has every right to enjoy one's wealth, no need to be guilty about it. But wasting wealth? It is like switching off the lights that you don't need. To squander large sums on 'lucky numbers' seems so puerile. And actors such as I mentioned appear in advertisements requesting us to take 'Karuna' Lottery, so that we can contribute for the welfare of the needy! Bullshit, I say!

  3. K is my friend on FB , saw his pictures - proof of the widening! :-)

    Not that i think paying so much money for a fancy number is worth it - but Prithvi is bloody rich. He probably does donate even more money to charity/does good to the society.He earns in crores and probably that 3.5lakhs is equal to 35 rupees to him. Maybe thats why he doesnt feel the prick.

    I have cousins who travel from bangalore to tvm in flights every time. I look at them and feel appalled wondering why they would do that when buses are available for half the price. I am sure the people going in non a/c buses look and me think why i would waste money in ac when non ac is perfectly good..

    It's just that i have enough to spend on an ac bus ticket comfortably. I dont think it as a criminal waste. SO i do it , it doesn't prick my conscience...the extension of the same logic probably applies to prithvi.

    Except that this 3.5 lakhs is a huge amount to us but trifle for prithvi.

    As an architect , i am faced with rich guys and their excesses every day. I used to wonder and feel indignant...but i discovered that most of these people also contribute to the society. They donate. They sponsor. But they also live their lives in luxury with their hard earned money.

    Who are we to grudge them their luxury ?

    As for me , i wouldnt buy those 2000-rupee shoes , nor would i go in a flight when i can take a bus.. But i wouldnt judge Prithviraj for the 3.5lakhs on his fancy number..

    1. :-)

      If I am to stand judge, I will have to start from say, Mukesh Ambani. I am not grudging the luxury of the rich, it is as you said, comparative. It is OK if Pritvi buys a Rolls Royce even. I only suggested that getting a fancy registration number at such a cost seemed ludicrous.

  4. Sticky situation Balan. People splurge because they can afford for one and secondly, they feel they are worth it. After all the hard work and struggle, I think its natural to get what you desire. As in Prithvi's case, his desire for a Porsche is fine, but fancy number? I don't relate to it personally since I don't believe in lucky numbers. But it it were me, I wouldn't think twice in buying a Porsche or a 8000 rs watch even though I don't look at my watch to know the time anymore, simply because I can afford it and I feel I am worthy of it

  5. That's all I said. Wasting money on a fancy number seemed unjustifiable, esp when the actor exhorts the public to buy lottery tickets to help the poor. I am not judging or holding a grudge, it just came to me when I read the news in the paper. It is not a question of affordability; and splurge is relative.

  6. Well.. I still wonder what would Harish do after his MSc in Botany?
    Would he buy a watch/sandals to celebrate or may be buy a new fancy number for his auto rickshaw?

    Neither, I guess.

    On another note : Why is this post untitled? Was that intentional?

  7. the title was intentional, because I did not want to be specific or focussed here.It is like I said, depiction of three different classes of people. What is dear to Harish may be negligble to me and 3.5 lacs on a number is negligible to the actor. But the point I would like to make is not that one should not buy expensive things; but wasting money on a 'lucky number' seemed quite wrong to me. Others might have different opinions.

    I am sure Parvati would guide Harish as to his future.

  8. Baletta, Can you please put a mail to me at abhilash.kishore@gmail.com. I needed to check something with you. I seem to have missed your e-mail id.

  9. Dear balettan,
    nice article - a touching one.Your views are 100 percent right .


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