A genuine respect of time, honesty and commitment are three virtues sorrowfully lacking in our people.
First story: It is the marriage season and nine out of ten functions are conducted well into the wee hours of the night. The invitation cards usually say "9 pm" but even the hosts will tell you, if you care to call, to come just a little before midnight. I remember arrving at the venue for a wedding reception at the time stated on the card. No guest, no host, and no arrangements either. The caterers were setting up tents, unstacking chairs they had just gotten off the trucks.
Time and Commitment
Second story: I needed to have some important papers - in the thousands - photocopied, for which purpose, I had them submitted to a copier yesterday, early morning. I was supposed to get them later in the day yesterday. A visit to the shop, and no success. I was told to approach them early morning today. Once again, no success. Ma'am, come later in the day. So I went again, just a while back. Once again, the response was negative and there were no signs of an apology either. Instead, I was shocked to witness an 'I-couldn't-care-less' attitude. I've been told my prints will be available in two hours' time. Whether or not, that fourth visit will be worth its while, is anybody's guess.
Third story: I went to the tailor more than a week back, and I was told my clothes would be stitched and ready today. I went, and need I say more...
Time, Commitment and Honesty
Fourth story: Last week, while I was busy trying to burn a few calories, my faithful 3-year-old treadmill failed on me and halted suddenly, almost plunging me into a pain. So I called an electrician in the area - who I thought was an honest man. He disassembled the motherboard, the panel and the motor, and said that the stuff would need to be treated in his lab. He then called and said the motor needed fixing, which could cost me about eight-thousand rupees. I told him that that was unacceptable to me and that he should bring the stuff back, to which, he generously responded that he'd try and bargain with the technicians. Another call, and he had reduced my expenses by about two thousand rupees. I was still in shock and unwilling to budge. Eventually, we settled at Rs. 3500. A week later, he came over, fit in the equipment, and then announced that only 5 per cent of the work needed to be done for which, I'd need to contact the shop from where I purchased my machine. Thankfully, for me, better sense prevailed and I told him that he'd have to explain the problem to the technician before I could settle accounts with him; my maching still wasn't running so having no sense of engineering, I had no guarantee as yet. He was left with no choice. Today, finally, the two men came face-to-face and it turned out that he hadn't worked on any of the equipment, and what he had done with my motor was worth just a few hundred rupees!
Since the last two years, my parents have been recommending that we settle abroad - somewhere in the West - for we still have our lives to build. Depression and hopelessness have never victimized our people as they now are. Similar sounds are resonating from other households. Parents are beginning to send their children out of the country, and those who are already out, are being well-advised to stay put. I find it hard still. I can't leave my parents, as they age.
What can be done? Can people be taught the sanctity and importance of time? Can virtues like honesty be taught? Can commitment be inspired? It is scary but I think, no, no and no! What happens to a nation when ethics and morality not only take the back-seat but are crushed under the hood altogether?
It is already happening. Happy New Year?
Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik