Do Unto Others …

From the time I know Subramanyam 15 years ago, my car visits his garage like a married woman would visit her mother to share pains and pleasures of life. When Subramanyam ran the shop, he would evaluate cost/benefit of each complaint in my car and attend to only the ones he felt justified knowing my usage pattern and vanity factor. He would advice me not to pay attention to some minor details as that would not make a difference. He would decide if to replace with genuine parts or duplicate cheap brand-less, based on the function and criticality of the part. At times, if he had a used spare part with him better than the one in my car, he would replace it, at no cost to me.

He reflected what he would if the car was his and ensured its smooth running at minimal cost of maintenance.

For the past two years, Subramanyam’s son Karthik attends to the operations of his garage and does it admirably well. When my car visits the garage now, even the tell-tale signs of wear and tear are attended to.  No compromises on quality, no sub-optimal solutions to save cost. Replaced items are thrown away without a consideration that they may be of use in emergency. They have no value. Like his father, Karthik too considers my car like his own and acts without consulting on the cost. I am happy, but the cost of maintenance has risen three-fold without change in quality of usage.

Faded jeans and worn T shirt is what a teenager wants and his father buys expensive formals in traditional colour and fit that won’t wear for twenty years come what fashion may. After six hours marathon shopping, mother proudly brings a six yard Kanjivaram with golden brocade and hopes against hope that her daughter would wear it for the cousin’s husband’s brother-in-law’s daughter’s wedding reception. The daughter walks out with a comfortable dress she wears for work. Son bangs his head that his father is too formal or too traditional, painfully punctual and unreasonably expects the same from others.

UB City in Bangalore has a Coffee Day outlet where the cheapest cup of coffee costs Rs. 125. With tax, the bill is Rs. 156. You may tip the waiter as you like. People find pleasure spending good time here, having good time. One used with sharing a cup of coffee costing Rs. 7 in a “Darshini” fast food may not like the taste of brew at Café Coffee Day. A professor friend laments when his teenage son spends Rs. 60 for a bottle of cola which could be 1/5 the cost in regular shops. The son visiting there with friends needs the vanity of buying the cola at 5 times the regular cost. Parents would say “if only this boy were as responsible as our other son or daughter!”  Parents define responsibilities of their children and the children define how the parents should behave responsibly and responsively – both parties by their own images of fairness.

“Understand and accept me the way I am – not by comparing with you and never with my offspring. “

If I visit a restaurant, my standard choice is a plate of idlies or a plate of curd-rice. My daughter complains – if you have to eat the same dish as at home, why come to a restaurant. As a guest at some homes, if the host forces me with varieties of delicacies, I am suffocated. If the host is a gastronomist and would like to treat me like him, we experience impedance mismatch. Refusing what is served with love and wasting food on plate make me feel guilty too. Kindness hurts.

Differences in strong belief systems create guilt after interactions. We lose our peace in this conflict. We are better by being our own judge and refrain from judging others because what we expect from them is different from what they love to do.

 “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Variations of this golden rule appear in most of the religious teachings. However, in everyday life, what we expect from others is often different than what they expect from us. There are differences in position, culture, age, and state in life. “Do Unto Others” has to be interpreted as dealing with empathy, understanding the other person’s values, feelings, position, situation and needs.

Values are pre-formed guiding system to avoid the split. Whereas the above interpretation applies to low level interactions and expectations, certain core values are invariable:

  • I expect others to be honest to me, and I shall be honest to them.
  • I expect none to abuse or harm me, and I shall not harm or abuse others.
  • I want people to be true to me and trust me, and I shall do so with them.
  • I don’t want to be dealt with prejudice and I won’t be prejudiced.

We can expand this list to build meaningful relationships.


About pgbhat

A retired Naval Officer and an educationist. Has experience with software industry. A guest faculty at different institutes and a corporate trainer with software development companies.
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