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New Year: I wouldn’t donate, host, pay & wash jeans

Author: Venkata Ravi Ram/Sunday, January 7, 2018/Categories: Cover Feature, Expert View

New Year: I wouldn’t donate, host, pay & wash jeans

1. I wouldn’t donate, but would accept

Mainly because I already donate too much. Twice over. How, one might wonder. Well I am a salaried guy, like most of the readers here. Someone from whom 1/3 salary is taken away before it is even deposited in my bank account. What for, one rightfully wonders? The TV spot from the guys who take such monies says it is for the roads, bridges, hospitals and assorted facilities that make my life better. Really? Where are those? Because, I can’t seem to see them at least in the dimension that I exist. You might say, that’s once, where is the twice over thingy? Well, everything I buy - fuel, food even the highest selling (& probably cheapest) biscuit in the market Parle-G, everything is taxed. See, I pay Government taxes twice over. So do you. Only that most don’t realise.

And it’s not just with the Government that we can’t fathom where our money went. It’s not very different on the ‘other’ non-government side too. Including stuff managed by [sic]saints: In 1994, the editor of British medical journal, The Lancet, wrote about Mother Teresa’s hospices that medicine was scarce and that patients received nothing close to what they needed to relieve their pain. Where are all those millions?  Including that your very own money which you donated so that poor Parvati can get treated. God knows! (literally) said Sister Nirmala Joshi, “He is our banker!” Great! Next time you submit a reimbursement claim in your office and the accountant asks for bills, try telling him, “God only knows!”

My present policy: accept any donation, PayPal, UPI or Bitcoin. But if someone asks me for a donation, I shrug and say, “Oye, you are late! I already donated 30% of my pay, mother-promise!” If someone presses on, I fall back on that very useful adage that I prefer to teach someone pluck a mango, rather than buy him a Frooti(I am a veggie, so no fish pleeze!).

2. I wouldn’t host, but would be a guest

And, why not? Break your head for the menu, setting, friends list, clothes and, of course, cash and what do most guests do? Ask for the Wi-Fi password and get on with their virtual social life in the middle of what would have been a real social life. Perks of being the host in digital times, your face as the host would be splattered all over Facebook, twitter, snapchat and WhatsApp with stickers and assorted smileys portraying your wonderfulness and your great party. So, please spare me. Don’t ask me if I am hosting the next party. I will always be, literally, your guest and solemnly swear that I would pray for your name to be hashtagged a million times! Oops. Before I forget, just one thing, what’s the Wi-Fi password!

3. I wouldn’t offer to pay, but would look the other way

You go out for dinner, sitting at the next table are a gregarious bunch of friends. It feels nice to see people gel like that. However, when time comes to settle the bill, all hell breaks loose. Friends jump over chairs try to grab the waiter to hand their card, one grabs the bill and another tries to grab it from him. Pandemonium. Now, if one steps back and takes a detached view of the situation, it’s not as if everyone who jumped to settle the bill actually wanted to do so, from their heart. Each has a reason for doing that: one needed to show-off, the other would bill the company anyway. Now, what about poor guys who don’t have any incentive to insist on paying. Especially the veggies who haven’t gobbled those Golden Prawns or, those teetotalers who didn’t touch those exotic cocktails; the cruelest combo being a bit of both.

Look the other way and sudden urge to go to the men’s room are the common ones. Here are a few strategies that can be employed to avoid paying the bill. Never go to a familiar restaurant where the waiter recognizes you. Familiarity means, when in doubt he will give you the bill. Other than grin-and-pay, you can’t do much after that. A simple trick is to avoid places where they know you. Another situation, even if you are not a familiar face, the waiter would present you the bill, if either you did the reservation, or took the lead in placing orders. In either case, the waiter would assume that you are throwing the party. Simple strategy, don’t do either – the reservation or the ordering. Feeling lost, the waiter would never look at you but for some face that shows a glimpse of enthu for settling the bill.

4. I wouldn’t buy a book, but would borrow/download it.

Ah, books. One of my favorite things. I grew up in a home surrounded by books and bookworms. One of my friends was joking once, saying he will never forget my home as that was the only place where he saw books stacked in cupboards and clothes in boxes. Our family loved our books. We still do. Do I buy them? Very few nowadays. Few reasons. We lost a lot of those books. People borrow and never return, most common reason given is they further loaned it to so-and-so as I knew him also very well etc. Books are expensive, even after the discounts. And, most of the time the price is not justified. US regulators have found Apple indulged in price-fixing of textbooks.

Critics’ reviews (can be rigged) book-end descriptions are not reliable predictors for quality assurance of the content inside. You may end-up literally paying a price for a dud. Add to that, most of the books are a ‘read-once’ category. So, why pay an extravagant price for a book that you may not like, or may read only once in your life. So, I am always on the lookout for options and the best one comes with your phone bill. And, it’s free books! Yeah, you read it right, most of the popular titles, including sets like Monthly Bestsellers lists are available for free download from your national/international ’peers’, friends who like you and me share their books. By the way, this is not even illegal if a book was downloaded for personal use, as declared by the Mumbai High Court. See, you have the courts backing, go ahead, download!

5. I would use jeans to avoid washing clothes

Neil Diamond’s Forever in Blue Jeans is one of my favs. For a good reason. This song coupled with a ‘legendary’ jeans company ad where a guy hangs out his jeans from a bus(!) for drying, create a good framework on which I can hang until death that tedious chore called ‘washing clothes’. Jeans don’t appear to be soiled easily, especially the darker shades. So, one can go on for months without washing. Endorsing this take are the companies that are supposed to have jeans in their genes, including Levi’s, if you think they are ‘oh, so old’ try the newer cult brands like Hiut Denim and Nudie Jeans. All the three say washing will spoil the material and the longer you don’t wash, the better they jeans! And, as a psychological prop washing jeans feels criminal waste of water. If you have ever washed jeans with your hands, you would know the amount of water they consume to get ‘clean’. So, Go Green! Stop washing clothes and get yourself a pair of jeans. Well, if the family & friends shudder and slink away at the first whiff of your stink, hey! There is always an Axe at hand!

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Venkata Ravi Ram
Venkata  Ravi Ram

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