The head of Pakistan-administered Kashmir has warned that a deteriorating security situation along and across the disputed border with India had the potential to escalate into a nuclear conflict that could reshape the world as we know it.
It is estimated that both India and Pakistan have about 150 nuclear warheads each and they have gone war with each 4 times (1947, 1965, 1971 & 1999) since separation. So it is a great concern when talks of escalation and use of nuclear arsenal is widely spoken since Article 370 removal was done.
But what is the Article 370 and why some countries are not happy with it?
(This is probably the worst car wash ever. But the true horror is seeing your loved vehicles being man-handled at the car wash centres and being blasted with cheap detergents & shampoos that can rust the car body and wash half done properly and you still need to pay for it. This was one thing that we decided not to do when and if we decided to open our own car wash center)
The dreaded GST came into effect from 1 April 2015 and one have to admit that while it has saved the Government’s hide for more than one occasions (especially when the price of oil went down), it however had brought a cascading impact on the country’s economy. The consumer have ended paying more for basic goods and services – in some cases, with an unnecessary spike in price even by those small traders who now have to pass on GST charges in their prices because the bigger traders have done the same. Guess who gets whacked left, right and center in the end?
On the positive side of the GST is that we have been forced to relook into the items we buy or consume on monthly basis and start to eliminate luxury items away. We end up scrutinizing our needs and then buying things that we really need for daily consumption and opt for more home cooked food than going for expensive menus at some fancy restaurants (and sadly that included our favourite Sushi restaurant). And soon, this list included McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Kenny Rogers. Nowadays our go-to-place is our local mamak restaurant.
2015 was a bad year and eventhough things started to “stabilise” in 2016, it was not a good year as well.
One day in 2015, I got a call from my cousin who was retrenched when his company decided to downsize the staff. Despite his good experience and skills, he was not retained and it was a bad timing indeed as his wife was also retrenched from her company almost the same time (but later found a position opened in the same organisation). My cousin after considering whether to go back to his 9 to 5 routine with another company decided instead to go into business with his friend. Together they opened a car wash center near to a car workshop. Business was slow on the weekends especially because the center was not next to the main road (where there are other car wash centers) and as most office in the vicinity were closed. I would occasionally bring my car to his car wash as well – I know he would do a good job and at the same time, I was able to support his business as well.
My cousin however was always on the lookout for a better place for the car wash – one that fronts the main road where it is easily seen by potential customers. And one day he called me saying that he got the right spot – when I visited him, it was good place indeed although he was not alone to provide car washing services in the area, there was another 2 – 3 car wash centers in the vicinity. First day at his place, I asked him to polish my car – it was cheaper than other places I often go and having my own cousin doing the polish works alone is a good reason to have the polish done here and not elsewhere. But then I saw his problem – he was doing the work all alone (another cousin joins in occasionally). Then when he was free, we had a chat – one thing I noticed he looked healthier (a bit darker but healthier). He slimmed down a lot as well (compared to the time when he was working in an air-conditioned, cozy office). And because he was his own boss, he looked less stressful as well – he had time to kill this time around.
Considering that he could use extra help especially on the weekends and since I don’t have much to do on the weekends (other than eat, sleep and watch TV), I decided to join-in to help him – I had always wanted to help him for all the things he had done when I first started to date my wife (back then he had already married, so although I am elder than him, in a way he was a “senior” than me when it comes to relationships, ha ha). I did not much money to spare for his business (good thing, he had other “investors” coming in) but I had the time and myself to help him. After discussing with him and getting his green light from my HEO, I came over on fine Saturday morning, wearing an old T-shirt and my short pants. No pay for the work done, which was ok for me as money was not the reason I joined him.
I have washed my own car many times before this but I found out that it is a whole different ball game when it comes to washing someone’s else car. Firstly some of the cars that comes in is clearly not driven by humans. Yes, I repeat it – not humans. Vomits, chips, spilled milk, dog furs, mud, black oil and dusts is just a small part of things that you will discover in some of the cars (especially, sorry to say, women drivers). It is amazing that there are humans out there who are willing to be driving on daily basis in a car covered with those things. Secondly some of the drivers who came in for the car wash are simply too impatient before we get the car all done. I noticed this mainly from the lady drivers, the male drivers on the other hand, don’t mind the extra time taken to clean their cars. Sometimes it is the other way around – too many cars lined up and very less time to get the car washed up and me and my cousin get too impatient to clear them.
At first, I follow the so-called “routine” – often looking for queues from my cousin and often limit myself to wiping down the car after it has gone through the snow wash. Then slowly I moved on to interior cleaning, vacuuming, tire polish and later on to shampooing the car (we did not use the cheap detergent but a proper car shampoo). And we embarked on improving the quality of service, gradually – one that immediately sets us apart from our competitors. We decided to wash the cars in the same manner we wash our own car or rather how we want car wash centers to wash our cars. Yes, it takes longer to complete the washing but in the end, the effort taken is much appreciated by our customers – the car is a lot more cleaner and we included a small effort of detailing of the interiors.
Which car wash centers dusts off the dusts on your dashboard. the dial meters and the finger prints on the mirrors and the old stain under the car plate number? Yes, we do all that. In fact, if we have time, we actually wipe and clean each strand of the tire rims to make it clean and shiny. Detailing is part of our services for no extra cost. And once we have done all the washing and wiping and before we hand over the keys back to our customers, there is one final round of quality check. And our customers loves that and so much that we often see them bring their cars, their wife’s car on weekly basis and telling their friends & family members to visit us as well. We got a lot of referrals and that pushed us to ensure quality is always maintained eventhough we have cars waiting to be washed. No rushed work as far as we are concerned. Surprisingly people wait for us – once a customer waited for 2 hours for my cousin to open shop. This is excluding those who are coming in for wax & polish (which took at least half a day to be done but we still had customers) and some to clean their headlights.
There were other developments as well – I started to meet my daily active minutes, consistently meeting it on the weekends when I am “working” at the car wash. And if there are enough cars to wash, I can easily clock in the minimum 10,000 steps. I sweat a lot so much so I started to drink gallons of water – sometimes within minutes my large 1.5 liter water bottle would be empty and I have to replenish on a regular basis. Interestingly drinking a lot of water when I am at “work” did not mean frequent visit to the toilet and in fact, all the days I was at the car wash, I did not once went to the toilet, no matter how much water I had been drinking the whole day. I gather most of the water that I drank is dispensed when I sweat a lot. It was a good workout from morning until late evening and by the time I come back home with a very soaked T-shirt, I would be energy drained – just enough to take a light dinner (sometimes a burger near the car wash) and knock off for a good night sleep. Yes, I started to lose weight and feel healthier as well.
Business was good except when it rains – there were days when we hardly had any cars due to the heavy rain. We will sit at the sofa, waiting for customers to come in once the rain had stopped but never once there have been a dull moment at the car wash except maybe when the cats from the nearby workshop decided to mess up the place (you know I hate cats right?). No dull moments because me and my cousin share the same passion for old Tamil songs especially one from MSV and Illayaraja– we will fire up our smartphones and sit down to listen to the songs whilst waiting for the rain to stop. On other days, we will recall back our childhood and incidents such as the meet up at our Grandma’s house for Deepavali. There were plenty of funny & interesting stories, some unknown to me from that “era” and we would end up laughing on that events. Usually after the rain had stopped, we will see cars now muddied coming over for a good wash.
My stint at my cousin’s car wash was however a short one – just several months short. My cousin soon found that despite good business and a string of loyal customers (ha, I even had one, coming in on the weekends for detailing), it was not enough to continue. He had other issues well to resolve – one had been manpower. It is hard to expand with just one person handling the whole thing. So ended my weekly workout at the car wash – I was kind of sad to leave that active & fun environment but my wife was relieved to see me at home on the weekends. My cousin had moved on as well – he got busy with other work but both of us agreed that if we have the chance and opportunity, we would open a proper car wash center but maintain the same level of commitment and quality. Car wash center is one kind of gym that gives you work and works you at the same time.
It is a short one for this week but it has something that our country (and its good citizen) have been lacking in some areas and should be revisited. It is also something that I have been pondering on a personal basis.
Let me start with a simple case study:-
There is a junction near the housing area where a quiet number of the residents would take to make a u-turn to go to the housing area. Well, that fine as it is quite convenient for the residents. The only problem is there is a clear sign that says no u-turn is allowed. Despite this sign board and sometimes the inconvenient (and danger) posed to other road users, the residents continue to make u-turns instead of driving a bit more further and make u-turn. It may sound trivial but perhaps the residents may not be aware, they are breaking traffic law on daily basis.
The notion of dharma comes to my mind. The concept of dharma may mean many things to different people and religion. It may even have different name in different part of the world and culture. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’ (Wikipedia)
Before anyone accuse me of being holier than holy (ha ha), let me assure you that it has nothing to do with religion but rather a way of life, doing the right things (as oppose to doing the things right) and ensuring that we do not hurt others out of greed, anger and of course, stupidity. You can find a variant of this in every modern society, culture and religion. Morality is one aspect of it but then the question may arise – what is right for me may not be right for you. That I agree with you. But there simpler acid test for this – be guided by the existing laws and society norms.
It can simple as following the traffic rules – don’t make illegal u-turns is one example, not driving on the wrong side of the road, put on the indicators when changing lane, wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and so on. And to something more complex like managing the country in the best interest of it’s citizen. There is no law written down to managing the country in the best interest of the citizen, of course.
This is where the society norms comes in place. No society wants to be governed by greedy, dumb, wasteful, dictator alike government – unless we are in a failing states like Zimbabwe or North Korea (but not Iran as the US wants us to believe). But we are not, we are far from countries like that. We will come across many instances of doing the right things in a day if you keep an eye and ears on it.
Asking people to do the right thing is nothing new concept. It is an age old concept.
I first came across the word “dharma” when I went to India for the first time and bought the Mahabharata from a local book store there. It was on sale (most things were) and the language used in the book was not so complicated to follow (I had to do something to kill time when the ladies were out for their shopping).
The dharma is mentioned a few times in Mahabharata which itself been called the story of dharma:-
Mahabharata is one of the oldest epics of our country, nay the world. It shows how dharma and karma govern our lives. Dharma is what is the right thing to do at a given time or situation. Dharma is based on wisdom, insight and human values. Dharma has many meanings and many dimensions as well – duty, truth, non-violence (ahimsa paramo dharma) and others. It is well said that “dharmo rakshita rakshata” – dharma protects he who follows dharma. However, if you do not follow dharma, you have to reap the consequences. That is karma – you reap what you sow, sooner or later.
Failure to uphold the dharma will eventually attract bad karma. That’s universal – if you don’t do the right things, the consequences will not be good as well. If you don’t follow the traffic rules, you may get into an accident (or cause others to get into an accident).
The same with running this country. If you don’t govern the country well, it will not prosper and developed. And so. You may have heard variations of it – Murphy’s law, Newton’s 3rd law of motion, blah, blah
Knowing what is the right to do is one thing, doing it without fail is another:-
Doing right always is a very difficult task. Many a times we do not know what is dharma, what is not. Even though we know, unless it is a very usual habit of following it, at times of great stress it is impossible to follow the path of Dharma.
In order to do thing on a constant basis, it takes high discipline and of course practice but more importantly there must be an acceptance that doing the right things should precede doing things right. It has to be habitual as well.
(No matter where you are right now, no matter how old you are, I am sure you always have your favorite old songs by these dynamic duo that you don’t mind humming the whole day long. Image source: Silverscreen India)