Thursday, March 20, 2014

When You Are Underpaid

The month of march is nearing it's end, and so is our financial year. A lot of organizations have appraisal/increment cycles scheduled in this or next month. People belonging to those are eagerly waiting for the salary hike, and many of them are counting on it. Due to the rating system in corporate, the outcome will be different for everyone. The hikes will be great for few, and normal/average for most. 

A lot of people get frustrated after this letters come out. They start feeling cheated, and underpaid. We keep hearing stories of some guy in XXX company getting a handsome increment, or some other guy who switches job and goes abroad on a package in multiples of his current. There is always some company whose increment percentage is higher than us. Sometimes internally we are not happy with the evaluation of our performance, and more upset with higher rating given to someone who is clearly undeserving according to us.

If people working in well known organizations, getting paid decently can feel this way, just imagine about these artists from Raghurajpur, Orissa. Almost everyone in this village is involved in a unique form of painting. They work hard, and are expert in producing marvelous hand-painted artifacts, which go places with their beauty.

Although the craft meets appreciation wherever it goes the craftsmen remain unknown, and underpaid. The problem is that, unfortunately these simple modest people are expert in only their art, and not the commercial aspect of the trade. 

Please watch these short video to listen to these artists, and know more about their situation.

These people often sell their art to middlemen who in turn sell them on much higher price than they pay the artists. This way, the middlemen rip most of the profit by simply trading on the simplicity of the artists, and their lack of ability to reach the customers directly.

Do you remember, how do you feel when you see somebody gets appreciated or paid more than you get, when that somebody is not exactly more deserving than you? Well, the feeling of these wonderful artists would not be much different than yours.

So the big question, what do you do when you are underpaid? The answer is simple, find the reason for that and attack on it. Obviously, it's easier said than done. What we salaried people can do is, discussing with our bosses, trying to convince them about our worth. Or update our resume and broadcast it to find a new job. In short, look for avenues to increase income.

A possible solution to the problem of these villagers is proposed by an organization called Do Right. With the help of technology, if these people can get an online platform to showcase their talent and art, they will be able to reach out to people interested directly. We know how e-commerce web sites are doing well in India, and the power of the internet.

They will be able to deal with customer directly and crack deals which are beneficial for both of them. The awareness and interest about their art will be enhanced, and the demand might also grow. If they are financially more stable, they will be able to stop worrying and concentrate on their art and continue improvising it.

They are seeking help from everyone to create a website and empower these artists. You can help in two ways :

  1. Donate for the cause on Do Right
  2. Spread the word and help to increase awareness, like this post
If you are doubtful about the impact of such initiative, then please watch another video. This is beautiful advertisement of Google, showing the power of the web.

Let the Indian art grow, and shine worldwide. Do help, Do right.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Our Distant Relatives

Funny title, isn't it? But we Indians treat our land or earth as Mother. If you consider that relation, all living things in nature are our relatives, some are close, others are distant. The question is do we love and care for our extended family?

Last week, there was an article published about a girl named Julia "Butterfly" Hill. She is an environment activist from America. If you take environment seriously at all, her story would definitely amaze you, wake you, and inspire you. That's what it did for me. Let me tell you the story.

Once upon a time, there was a jungle. Many animals, sects, plants and trees lived there for ages in harmony, then came the evil creatures called humans. They were not so powerful physically, but really intelligent. They used their mind to create their own world. They used the animals for farming and travelling. They cut the trees and made their homes and furniture.

Men kept cutting the jungles, clearing the land, destroying once happy world of jungles. But still, some of the trees survived, for more than 1000 years, unbelievable, though it is.

A company got the contract to clear the remaining jungle, to cut the trees that were out of human hands for more than a millennium. For so long, the tree sheltered many, fed many, helped so many things. But the only use of tree, the company could see was the wood it could provide. 

Not all humans were bad and careless. Some people cared, understood that this is also our family, we must save it, for that's the world will survive. They came forward to protest. They started volunteering to live on tree for some time, so that they could stop the company from cutting the tree. 

But the company was powerful, these people were small. Soon, they were about to run out of their volunteer's list, and then a girl came forward. Her name was Julia. She decided to stay with the tree. She named the tree as Luna. She started loving the tree, and realized that tree also loves her in its own way.

Days passed, and so did weeks and months, and Julia lived there for two years. The company tried everything to fail her, everything failed but not her. She survived through the heavy rains and chilling winters. More people started coming to help her in all ways they could. In the end the company agreed to preserve the tree, and confirmed her victory.

That girl sacrificed two precious years of her life to save a tree. It made me realize, if people like her are doing that much for nature, how little am I contributing for the nature? She inspired me to think upon this, and love the nature more and care for it.

The nature loves us, and that is why it is giving us so much. All the resources we are using are a gift by nature. We must respect it, and love nature back. Not everyone can contribute or sacrifice as much as this brave girl, but let's do our part, let's start with simple and small things.

  • Plant trees, participate in tree plantation drives organized by NGOs
  • Don't take unnecessary printouts and save paper
  • Use your handkerchief instead of paper napkins and save paper
  • Don't waste water
  • Think more ways, suggest and share
Thanks Julia, for inspiring me to love nature more.

P.S. This post is written as submission to #NaturesFriends contest by

Thursday, March 13, 2014

When I Will Explore Malaysia

The summer is about to start. School and college going kids are eagerly waiting to finish with their exams, and enjoy their 2 months long summer vacation. Some might have planned their to-do things in this summer. Summer is the favorite Travel Season for Indians for obvious reasons. Parents prefer to go out for a trip when their kids have no homework and lectures to miss in school.

The travel agencies know this well, and since last few weeks we are seeing half or full page ads in the newspaper of every travel agency, and about trips all over the world. It's really tempting. I wish if even working professionals like me could get such yearly off; it would be fun and easier without worrying about leave balance.

Since my childhood, I've been dreaming of travelling all over the world. I read a travelogue called "Purvaranga" (colors of east), by celebrated Marathi author P L Deshpande, about his long trip to Indonesia, Malaysia, and other eastern countries. I was amazed about the fascinating places there, and equally impressed with the observation and narration skills of Mr. Deshpande. There is so little we know about our Asian neighbors because the only direction we look is west.

Since then, I've a strong desire to travel to these countries, especially Malaysia. Just like India, Malaysia is blessed with diversity of geography, people and culture. From the beaches with crystal clear water to jungles and sanctuaries, from beautiful nature to modern cities, they have it all.
Here are top 5 things in my Malaysia wish list.

1. The Two Towers 

Not the two towers you have seen in Lord of the Rings, but the ones which you get to see in the Sharhrukh Khan's Hindi superhot movie, Don. A thrilling sequence with Arjun Rampal is shot here. The Patronas Twin Towers are one of the tallest buildings in the world, and tallest twin towers. Another tall attraction nearby is Kuala Lumpur Tower. There is a rotating restaurant here on the top. Imagine a dinner with the view of Kuala Lumpur from this tower.

2. Batu Caves
India and Malaysia have a long history together. Indian traders visited this region often. Many of them settled here. The local culture has influences from both Indian and Chinese culture. Parts of Malaysia were part of historical Indian empires. Many Sanskrit inscriptions are found in Malaysia highlighting this relation. Batu Caves, constructed in relatively recent times, is one of the significant Indian religious places in Malaysia. As this is dedicated to Lord Murugan, Tamil people in Malaysia gather here to celebrate the Thaipusam festival on a large scale.

3. Water Village
The name Water Village suits the village well, because literally the village is built on the edges of the water. All the wooden houses, residing mainly fishermen, are built stilt on the water. Numerous wooden bridges connect the village. Every family owns a boat here, that's the local transport system. A walk and a boat ride in such a village would definitely be exciting.

4. Living Museum
By just a visiting a tourist spot, you will not understand the local culture enough. You will need something more. The Sarawak Cultural Village has made it easier. It is one step ahead of Siddhagiri Gramjeevan Museum in India that I have already written about. The Indian museum has only statues depicting the rural village, but the Sarawak in Malaysia has an entire village with living people living there and doing the routine tasks that you can observer. That's why it is popular as Living Museum.

5. Pulau Redang
I have seen the beaches with powdery white sand and crystal clear water only in films and advertisements. I want to experience it in real. Pulau Redang is a set of islands with such beautiful beaches, rich marine life, diving sites. If I ever go to Malaysia, I can't miss this place.

Malaysia has much more to offer than points in my wish list. I am waiting for the time when I visit this country, and explore Malaysia, truly Asia. :)

I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Indian Explorer : 3 : Ideas

Till now in this series, about a marvelous place called Siddhagiri Gram Jeevan Museum I visited, and how few ignorant visitors there made me think about the attitude of Indians towards traveling and exploring places. If something attracts you, or repels you it's not about that something always, it could be about you also. That's what this series is about. 

After telling about what I see as a problem, now I tell you my ideas to solve it. Let me put a disclaimer, this is neither some never before discovery or invention. These are simple things coming out of own experiences and thoughts. You could be already doing some or all of it. If so, please keep it up. :) 

Be Clear
Before planning your trip, be clear what you're planning it for. The theme should be clear. If you're looking for a relaxed outing, you can't include a long trek or jungle safari in your trip, because it is exhaustive and same the other way round. 

I have a wonderful group of my friends from my Mumbai Office, and we go to Alibaug-Nagav beach every year. We call it our tradition. Same place, same cottage, same restaurant, same beach, same plan, every year. No other sightseeing. We call it our "tradition". We go there to have completely stress-free time with no agenda but to have fun.

But on other occasions, with the same group we go for trekking, amusement parks, historical places.

Do Your Homework
When you've decided on destinations of your trip (well that also needs little surveying), go through the details of these places. With internet, it's so easy now. Look for the attractions nearby, which match your interest more, which places you are sure that they won't excite you at all. This will enable you to focus on only what interests you, or is completely new for you.

After my last post, you might feel I am against the package tours offered by operators. Well, I'm absolutely not against it. My take on it is that don't go blindly where operator takes you. Think on your likes and dislikes and try to customize and get the best out of your package.

I and two of my friends +Akshay Deshapnde and +Mayur Jewlikar went for 10 days trip to Konkan. We got a bus pass offered by MSRTC, and traveled through many beautiful places. Due to the amount of planning and homework we put in, we were able to cover most of our places in plan on time. 

We were also flexible, and adjusted our plans on the go owing to constraints put by Bus timings and availability, hotel availability at some crowded destinations. We used to chat with fellow passengers, travelers and get more information about places ahead. That way we could visit some places that were not on our actual plan. We had a very memorable trip. And I must tell you this, we enjoyed our planning sessions as much as our trip.

Less Is More
Many people think that, when they go to a destination far off from their native place, they should visit every possible attraction there, because they might not get the chance again. They are not wrong in thinking that. But that thinking leads to hurrying through the spots all the day. It's quite possible that some of those places have nothing new or exciting to offer a particular person because of his taste. So what's the point in rushing from an interesting place to a lesser interesting one?

There are more than enough websites on internet that tell you in detail about almost every tourist spot on the earth. People who have actually visited those places put their review, about their findings and observations about it. This information is enough for you to dedicate your time to fewer spots of interest, and strike off places which will not excite you.

Our Kolhapur-Miraj trip, from where I started this series of blog, we visited only three attractions of Kolhapur. We were heavily constrained by time, we could neither start earlier, nor we had time to extend. We ate Misal at famous Phadtare Misal Kendra, visited the Siddhagiri Museum which I already wrote about, and Mahalakshmi Temple. And still I say we had a wonderful and memorable trip.

These are pretty basic and simple ideas to make your vacation more enjoyable. Consult me for more, I am an expert, :D. Just kidding. Take it as a starting point and start thinking, start exploring. :)