What A Change In Cultural Values!

“Today is your birthday.  Make yourself presentable to Dadi (grandmom) and other elders. Seek their blessings for your bright future,” my mother would advise me about sixty years ago, handing a set of new clothes.  Very obediently, I would go to my grand mother, uncle and all elders in the family, and bow for their blessings.

Today, the conversation with a birthday boy or girl would go  something like:

Me: “Did your grandmother and uncle call you to wish you on birthday?”

Child: “No, you know.  How bad.  How sad.  They did not call me.”

Me: “Then, did you call them up?”

Child: “If they don’t care to call me, why should I?”

Cultural values are changing fast!

Written : Badri Baldawa

Edited  : Meeta Kabra

Family Culture: East is East, West is West

Mid night Sun at Nord Cape 25 July 1983

July 1983. My wife and I were on our first of the three trips so far to the Northern most regions of the earth.   We were on our way to watch the midnight Sun. We were travelling by train from Copenhagen, Denmark to Oslo, Norway.

Mid night Sun at Nord Cape 25 July 1983

Mid night Sun at Nord Cape 25 July 1983

Other than us, there was one more passenger in our train cabin.  He must’ve been around 70 and was from Holland.  He was on a vacation.  He left home by a vanity van, which had all the luxuries one expects in an apartment.  He parked his van at Copenhagen before boarding the train for visiting the various islands in Norway for a 45-day trip.  In the Second World War, he was injured and one of his legs had to be amputated.   He was living with his wife on a decent pension.

In a couple of hours, we became friendly and I asked why his wife was not accompanying him on the vacation.  He said:  “Yes.  That’s how it was planned initially.  But on the day we were to leave, my wife fell ill and I left by myself. “

Look at this unimaginable situation.   Just because his wife fell ill, he left her alone.  Instead of staying back to help his ailing wife, he preferred to go ahead with his long vacation without her.   He could have easily waited for her to recover as it would not have made too much of a difference. He was traveling by road and had his accommodation in his own van.

Though this action was normally acceptable in their society, I am wondering whether we would have done the same thing in our part of the world!

Experienced and Written By: Badri Baldawa

Edited By : Meeta Kabra

Triveni Tricks

During my articleship, I was on an audit of a Sugar factory near Lucknow.  I had heard a lot about Triveni Sangam, a point where three rivers meet in Allahabad. Rivers Ganga and Yamuna meet and the undercurrents of Saraswati river joins the flow at this junction. For Hindus, a dip at this junction, is considered very auspicious and believed to liberate one of all sins.  Since, the office I was at was very close to this place, I wanted to experience this dip.

The current is extremely strong at the point where the 3 rivers meet as it is at the center of the three rivers. A boat ride that is a few minutes long, takes you to the meeting point. A group of other boats lowers a wooden plank from their sides. These planks are supported by bamboos.

I was sharing a boat with a total of 8 passengers.  While the boat was taking us to the Sangam, a boy from one of the smaller boats approached us and offered to show us a miracle.

He said (in Hindi, of course!), “Sir, look at this current of the two rivers Ganga and Jamuna.  You throw a five or ten rupee note in the river, I will swim and bring it back.  Tip me Re 1 if you are impressed.”  This was 1967, so the purchasing power of Rs.10 was like that of today’s Rs.1,000.  And Rs.10 from each passenger would make a reasonable amount.

The river’s current was extremely strong.  To catch a paper flowing in the river and bringing it back against the current was just unbelievable.  Everyone in the boat was impressed with the offer and were willing to test this little boy.

I said, “I will tip you of Rs.5 instead of Re.1, but you will have to throw your own currency note, not mine.”  The boy completely ignored me.  The other guys from our boat threw their currency notes.  The youngster swam in such a strong current and collected the notes. It was a real feat and we appreciated it.

But he never returned!  He just disappeared!  On my return, I could see the same boy making the same proposal to another boat sailing towards the Sangam.

Ah, I did not lose my money!

This small incident in life made me wonder. Others will continuously judge you according to their own perceptions but are you able to judge others appropriately when they try to take advantage of you?


Written : Badri Baldawa

Edited  : Meeta Kabra