A Competitive Community

Indians are competitive. We are competitive in every possible thing that we can be.

As a child, I remember the competition to get the best grades. Later, it was SAT scores and colleges. After that, it was careers. Then came marriage and children.

It was also happening within the community outside of our Indian one but it was definitely amplified within it.

It didn’t matter if we were in the top 10 of our class in our school, we had to also to better than the people we were growing up with (or at least comparable).

I’m positive that there is always some talk about who is married and who has had kids and who is a stay at home mom and who is a working mom. There’s definitely competition in who has the best wedding and the most original wedding and the most expensive wedding.

This competition exists in whatever we do. I’ve experienced it heavily in different dance companies. The crazy thing to me is that I honestly believe we limit our potential as a culture if we compete.

We want to be able to share how wonderful the Indian culture is with the world. But how can we do that when we try to keep each other down? We want to involve and encourage as many people as possible.

So the question becomes why? Why should we encourage others in our community? What if they are our competition for schools and jobs? What if their business competes directly with ours? Won’t it hurt us?

In my opinion, no. I’ve seen the discouragement and disappointment of a competitive community and I’ve seen the amazing community that people can build if they have each other’s support. In the long run, everyone moves forward if we work together and lift each other up. Maybe, just maybe, India with its billion of people can have more of a presence world-wide. We could enter in the Olympics and have more than 4 people. We could be more than a side-note in the entertainment industry (especially since India makes the most movies in the world). We could build a great, progressive country that is respected.

I honestly believe this all starts at home. Build each other up. Encourage each other. Help each other move forward.

Health Insurance Is Not A Guarantee Of No Stress

I am epileptic. I have given birth twice. I am a normal person.

Yet, one of the things that causes me the most stress in this life is my health insurance.

Unfortunately, I have a chronic condition. It’s not an option. I’m lucky enough that I can afford insurance. I’m lucky enough to be able to control my condition. I’m lucky enough to have a simple enough solution to handle it.

Dealing with insurance, however, makes the condition feel worse than it is. There are constant problems with meeting all the requirements to get the medicine I need to control the condition. The insurance doesn’t talk to the pharmacy, the pharmacy doesn’t talk to the doctor, the doctor can’t talk to the insurance. It’s like I need to conference call all of them constantly to make everything function smoothly.

In the past 4 months, I have had to deal with it all at least 3 times. For a month, I was constantly calling the insurance company, the pharmacy, and my doctor to get all the paperwork in order so I could continue to get the medication that I’ve been on for 13 years.

Why is it so hard? Why can’t something that should be so basic be easier? I’ve definitely read that it’s easier in other countries. I do realize that the insurance industry is a for-profit business and this is a way to make money. Why is that the case though? Shouldn’t our healthcare be a necessity, not a luxury? Shouldn’t we be able to get what we need without stress? Isn’t getting sick stressful enough?

I hope I get to see things get easier in the insurance world in my lifetime. I don’t know how this country can untangle the mess that it is. I don’t even know if the people in charge want to.

All I know is that it’s frustrating that in addition to whatever our bodies and minds are going through on a regular basis, we have to add a good dose of stress to it.

Why Should I Always Tip?

So here’s a story of a meal I had this past weekend. We met my parents at an Indian restaurant for lunch on Sunday to celebrate my husband’s birthday.

Everything was fine except for the fact that after we received our food, no one came to check up on us to see if everything was all right. That was okay. The food was good, came out quick enough, and we were having fun watching my kid really enjoying eating.

Then came the dessert and coffee we wanted to order. My dad ordered his coffee and before any of us could say anything else, the server turned to leave. Then, I asked for coffee so he turned back towards us. He turned to leave again. Then, my husband asked for coffee and dessert so the server turned back towards us. As he turned to leave again, I asked him to hold on so we could all check what we wanted. It wasn’t more than a minute that it took us to decide. Finally, we got our full order in. But it was a little irritating that he couldn’t just wait 2 seconds to let all of us order without worrying that he was going to take off.

We got our coffee. Immediately after, we got our check. We didn’t pay right away because we were still waiting for our dessert (which was ice cream so really, it shouldn’t have taken longer than the coffee in my opinion). I took a look at the check to see if they had charged us for the ice cream. I figured if it was on there, then at least he had heard us and they would be bringing it over. As soon as I glanced at the check and put it back down, the server was back to take it away. He didn’t even ask us if we had paid. I had to stop him again to let him know there was no money in there and that we were just waiting for our dessert.

Finally, our ice cream came. Unfortunately, it was so frozen that we couldn’t eat it. We couldn’t cut it. We flagged someone else down to get a knife so we could split it 4 ways. I was hoping she would bring a steak knife because that’s what we needed. But we got a butter knife instead. We still managed to cut it but we still couldn’t dig our spoons into it to eat.

While we waited, we finally paid the check. Of course, that was taken right away by someone other than our server and returned to us with the change. While we were still waiting, our server then came and picked up the final bill with whatever change was inside of it. He didn’t asked us if we were finished paying or doing whatever we needed to do. He just assumed it was okay to take.

Now if there had been a lot of change, I would have protested. But there was only a couple of bucks in there. Which meant that the server left with a $2 tip on a $60 bill. That’s a 3% tip. We normally tip at least 15%. We had discussed though that since the service was really bad, would we be tipping that much?

It didn’t matter. The decision was made for us by a server who was just trying to turn over the table.

Tipping is something that can be a sore point for me. I have had friends and family who have worked in the service industry and I get the whole underpaid thing and the need to have tips to compensate for it. But shouldn’t tipping rely partially on the service provided? I don’t have it in me to automatically tip a good amount just because you did your job. At the same time, I will tip generously if the service was beyond what was called for. But that is my hard earned money and I did my job well so I could come to the restaurant and eat. I don’t want to just part with it because of societal expectations.

I think it’s unfair that we feel like we have to tip a certain amount automatically. A lot of us are in jobs where we don’t receive a tip for good customer service. A lot of us are in jobs where we feel like we aren’t compensated enough for the amount of work we do. But we deal with it. We don’t have an option other than to ask for a raise or to find another job. Why is there a double standard here?

With this particular experience, this server did as much work as someone in a fast food restaurant. He took our order and brought us food. There was no extra service. I don’t tip a fast food employee. So why should this be any different?

Maybe I’m missing something about the restaurant industry so if you would like to fill me in on those facts, please feel free.

Today’s Music: Is It Actually Music?

So my post today has nothing to do with culture or any serious life defining moments. It’s really just a rant about music.

I have an issue with today’s music. It could be that I’m old or that the music I used to listen to growing up had so strong an influence on me that I just am biased against the current stuff out on the radio today.

So here’s the thing. If I had know this would be the time of autotune, I would have tried harder to be a singer growing up. Let’s be honest. I can’t sing. I can’t carry a note past my basic voice level. There’s no way that in the era of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Monica that I would have even survived. But today might have been a different story.

I’m sad for the generation that didn’t grow up with listening to great bands like Metallica or defining rappers like Tupac Shakur. They didn’t get to actually be able to hear people play music or create beats that have never been done before. The only people I can stand from this new era is Adele. Every other person that I like (Jay-Z, Dr.Dre, etc) is from the time I grew up.

I don’t know how many of you remember the time when underground rap was such a huge influence as well. It might still be going on and I might completely just be out of the loop but I remember the great stuff coming through the 80s and just disappearing by the end of the first decade of the 2000s.

Is it me or do all the radio stations play the same type of music now? I could swear that Power 106 used to be hip hop, 92.3 the Beat used to be R&B, Kiis 102.7 used to be r&b plus top 40, and KROQ used to be rock. I’m not sure anymore. I think that a lot of music has blended so much today that I’m not ever quite sure which station I’m listening to (when I’m actually listening to the radio). So much for variety.

I can’t stand listening to the radio anymore. I stick to my classics (I can’t believe that I’m old enough to call Whitney Houston a classic) and my Hindi music (which the number of good songs are also starting to slide). Again, I know I might be completely biased and maybe there is a ton of great music out there that’s just not in the mainstream and therefore, not reaching me. I’m just saying that I rarely hear something that makes me play it on repeat anymore. Please don’t tell me that Drake is going to change the face of music.

This post is dedicated to the children of the 80s who grew up listening to some of the greats in the music industry.