Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, has redefined social consumerism. His organization has donated seventy million pair of shoes, has helped 450,000 people in restoring their eyesight, has provided 400,000 weeks of safe water to the needy and extended support to other social causes around the world.

According to Ty Montague, Los Angeles social entrepreneur Mycoskie has been engaged in not just story telling but in story doing. TOMS is referred to as a “storydoing” company owing its success owing its success partly to what has been described as conscious consumers, who want to be involved in giving back to the society.

Often companies spend huge amounts of money in advertising to create brand awareness and recognition but storydoing companies rely on their consumers and employees to be their advertisers. Montague coined the word “Metastory”, a story told with action. He says that consumers are the biggest storytellers and company should strive to connect with a Metastory.

One for one shoes

Blake Mycoskie started TOMS in 2006 with a powerful story, support children in need, and with a radically different business model – “One-for-One”. Mycoskie’s model is based on a simple concept – provide a pair of brand new shoes to children in need for every pair of shoes sold. Mycoskie says that people who support TOMS are more than customers, they’re supporters. Mycoskie attributes the company’s meteoric rise to supporters’ belief in his story and their passion to be part of it.

One for one product and social cause expansion

TOMS extended their business model to sunglasses, coffee, bags and backpacks; with sale of every product TOMS helps one person in need. One for One! For each pair of sunglasses sold TOMS supports a person’s medical treatment for eyes (prescription glasses, &cataract surgery if needed). For each coffee bag sold TOMS supplies one week’s supply of safe water to a person in need and for bags/backpacks sold TOMS supports the giving partners in delivering gift of safe birth (for mothers in need) and gift of kindness (for young ones fighting bullying)

http://www.toms.com/improving-lives 

FEED Projects, a company with commitment to feed the poor, is another great example with a similar business model to TOMS. Lauren Bush started FEED Projects in 2007 with a promise to feed 1 child for a year for each bag sold. FEED Projects and the foundation have donated more than 60 million school meals to children around the world.

Businesses that had not incorporated “giving back” in their strategy model joined the new age movement and embraced social responsibility. Figs Scrubs (donates a set of scrubs to health professionals in need for every set of scrubs sold), Two Degrees (donates a natural health bar to a hungry child for every one sold), One world Futbol (donates a soccer ball to disadvantaged communities for every soccer ball sold), Bobs By Skechers (donates a pair of shoes for every pair sold).

Businesses have realized that given a choice between two brands, consumers tend to support and want associate with the one that is committed to a social cause. Recent studies also revealed that businesses tend to retain or attract talented employees based on their commitment toward social responsibility.

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Beautiful spring/early summer; blooming flowers; warm hearted locals; music, dance and graffiti engulfing the city; engrossing historical facts and culture; graceful and passionate Tango dancers; frenzy fans at soccer game; Gaucho culture and great beginning to relationships.  It was an amazing journey that is hard to express in words as the joy experienced by the beholder cannot be easily put down in writing. So my friends!! As I give this a try, sit tight, strap up and be prepared for a wonderful story.

Where do I start?? How did I even land in Buenos Aires (BA)?? As I reflect on my experience I strongly believe destiny played a big part in the timing of my trip. A lot of deliberation led to me and my friend zeroing on America Del Sur hostel instead of a hotel. We rued our luck on the day of flight for missing an offer of $1000 volunteer voucher from the airlines by a whisker. Bummer!! $1000 gone!! But I took it in stride and felt there was a reason we were flying out that day and Holy Molly!! I was right

Buenos Aires!! The air was warm, you could smell the spring flowers and the airport was bustling with people. I knew barely 2 words in Spanish and to my friends credit he could manage a broken conversation. We managed to hire a cab with a mix of sign language and hostel confirmation receipt. Finally we landed at the hostel and wow!! You could feel the warmth in the reception; the guy’s n gals at the desk helping you were full of energy, had a great smile and were really happy seeing us. We were glad to have selected the place and by the end of our trip we were beyond grateful to all, for the help they provided and it was an emotional good bye. I was overwhelmed when one of them at the front desk called me back as I was leaving the hostel because I forgot to give a good bye hug. Will anyone ever in a hostel/hotel business establishment do that? I would bet less than 0.1%. That is genuine warmth and happiness for me. Kudos!!! A great hostel and amazing people are running it. It feels like a home!!

My friend and I hit the streets of San Telmo market for the first time. Coincidently it was an open market day and the locals were selling handmade goods, local delicacies, cd-s, clothes…u name it we could find it there. It was amazing to see the vendors lined up for more than 10 blocks. The best part of this whole experience was getting to watch the local talented artists – musicians, dancers, singers, painters. They are truly talented!!  And you can feel the music and dance in their blood. They all seem to go into a trance when they are performing, smile on their face, their love for the art rocks your heart and you’re just too engulfed in the moments to even move from that place. Ohh!! I love my job and enjoy what I do but I will be lying if I say I experience the same joy each day. Friends!! The day we achieve such a blissful state, we would be blessed and no amount of money, wealth, laurels can substitute it. In particular I was impressed by a lady violinist with a radiating smile who just rocked with her violin; and an old lady (easily 70+) who was playing musical instrument/s. At 70+ I would be amazed even if I can walk around let alone be smiling and putting up a show for bystanders.

Numerous guide books point to the fact that locals have late dinners and party till the morning hours but honestly it still caught us by surprise to see dinners are usually taken around 11 and parties don’t even begin till 1 in the morning. As we lazed in the lounge area at the hostel waiting for the nightlife to come alive we got acquainted with a band of Irish lasses (well, we came to know they were Irish later) 🙂  As I was digging thru’ the city map I could see at the corner of my eye these 3 lasses waited for more than 5 minutes with wandering looks before coming over to our table. I guess they were hesitant to come across and sit at the table by 2 Indians, digging thru’ the guide books. 🙂 Eventually the army lass walked up and asked if they could sit. (Did not know she was in the Irish Army till later; maybe we would have been scared to oblige 🙂 Nah!!! She’s little dote to scare anyone) It was the beginning of a great friendship and I don’t think neither of us ever imagined the journey for the next 7 days would turn out to be so memorable.

My friend and I were shocked at first but then soon became jealous after we found they were on a 1 year travel adventure. Wow!! 1 full year full of adventure; traveling to beautiful places, experiencing the local culture, meeting wonderful people, gaining wonderful perspective of the world – who does not want to do it? We admired their courage to take a call on such a journey as we continued our intros. Later in the night we decided to have dinner at a local place; an overzealous waitress welcomed us and she was excited to talk and serve us. I guess she was wee bit too excited 🙂 n forgot my friend’s order. A lot of apologies followed and we finally finished our first supper together and began our quest of conquering the city; an unlikely band of 3 Irish lasses and 2 Indian dudes!! 🙂 It was enthralling as we strolled the city with tons n tons of restaurants, historical buildings, old café’s, artists sprinkled all over the city, amazing graffiti sketched on buildings, buses, trains and ever smiling people. We were all flabbergasted on being informed of an upcoming football game between Argentina –Brazil. We had to go!! A mother of all games that was coincidently scheduled during our visit to the city; and we decided to buy the tickets the next day.

Our band got a new addition the following day; a fellow traveler from Switzerland.  Trust a European to know the importance of football game 🙂 and he hardly needed any convincing to go to the game. We set out in search for the ticket counter where we could get our dream tickets.  It was a nice walk thru’ the city and my friend kept clicking away capturing the city on the lens.  I should be really thankful to him for the all amazing pictures else this whole adventure would have been confined to my memory which I don’t trust it to retain for long. By the love of god, I’m so happy I picked up the stadium seating map from the hostel else we would have been completely lost trying to communicate at the counter. It was amazing how we even bought the tickets; I had to literally show the map and point where we all wanted to sit. As soon as we bought the tickets, the joy on all our faces was palpable; as if we had just scaled Mount Everest!!

After all excitement toned down we hit the restaurant for a quick bite. Boy!! I realized that I should be careful next time before I place a bet with an Irish gal. One of them took up the challenge and gulped down a really huge sundae which will put even a regular triple sundae to shame.  I was shocked but hey I filled my side of bargain and paid for it and for my friend’s sundae. I was not surprised at my friend finishing his sundae but was not ready for Irish gal’s showdown 🙂 We hit the road again and enjoyed the rest of the evening walking down the harbor and admiring all the upscale restaurants.

The next day we all embarked on a tour to visit the famous shrine of Evita Peron in Recoleta. Evita Peron, an inspirational former first lady, was embraced by masses in the late 40’s and early 50’s of the 20th century for pursuing the labor rights, for charitable work and for running the first female political party. It was a long walk of 4-5 miles strolling thru’ the city passing the local landmarks and the upscale neighborhoods. It was cool walking down the widest street ever built in the world, 9 de Julio, that is 9 lanes wide and the views at the center of this street provide a great perspective of the city on either side. It was a hot day and we took pit stops first to savor ice creams and then to grab some supplies at a medical store. Language barrier resurfaced and it was a blast trying to communicate and explain to the chemists what we wanted. ( 🙂 Basically we were looking for gauze pads and wrap to cover blisters on one of the girl’s feet. Try explaining it in Spanish!!)

It was revering to walk through the maze of tombs at the Recoleta cemetery that honored so many great leaders of the past – politicos, artists, generals, revolutionists etc. Of course Evita Peron’s tomb was the center of attraction for all visitors. It’s rare to see so many revered personnel cremated at one single place and guarded as a national heritage. After our long tiring quest we were famished; to quote an Irish saying, 🙂 we’d eat a farmer’s arse through a blackthorn bush! The nearest place, McDonalds!! Lol, a place I would avoid 9.9999 times out of 10 back at home was looking like a dream place; just like white castle for Harold and Kumar 🙂 We culminated our walking tour by visiting Floralis Generica, commonly known as ‘steel flower’ made of steel and aluminum; a popular icon of the city. Walking thru’ the day drained all our energy and we ended up relaxing for most part that evening and the next day. We had to recuperate to build the excitement for the soccer game the following night.

Taking rest at the hostel for most part of the next day gave me ample time to read the book, Start Something That Matters, which I had bought along with me. In the book Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS shoes and its message of ONE for ONE movement. Blake Mycoskie during his trip to Argentina was moved by the plight of children who walked barefoot on the blistering summer roads and could not afford a pair of footwear. In an effort to help them and make a positive impact in the world around him Blake Mycoskie started TOMS shoes, the company that would match every pair purchased with a new pair given to a child in need. Since the company’s inception in 2006, TOMS shoes has given out more than million pair of shoes in 23 countries. Blake lives on a sail boat and his favorite quote by Gandhi: Be the change you want to see in the world. Blake stresses the importance of social entrepreneurship in his book and says one can love their work, work for what they love and change the world all at the same time. Profit, passion and meaning all at one given time; an inspirational story that questions rationale of each one of us who express that we are not rich to give back, or we don’t have time to do what we love. The book also exemplifies other social projects initiated by other visionaries who wanted to be a difference in the world. I was moved reading the book and I was still in the middle of this wonderful story.

As the day passed by I was still feeling heavy in the heart reading the story and I was definitely planning to finish the book before I left Argentina. We had a light lunch and we relaxed in lounge area. Soon the excitement of the game took over; we guys wore our no.10 Messi jerseys and were ready for some football. We took a taxi ride to the stadium; the driver of our cab was hell bent on racing ahead of the cab carrying the girls 🙂 he was jovial, funny guy and was constantly pulling our legs. After back n forth confused walking trying to find the gate to enter the stadium we  finally got to see the famed La Bombonera stadium the home of Boca Juniors, one of the world’s best known football clubs and a club  represented by the one and only Diego Maradona.

We had great seats; the view of the stadium was spectacular and crowd slowly started to trickle in. A sea of blue jerseys filled most part of the stadium except for a small visitor section filled by vociferous Brazil fans donned in yellow jerseys. The game kicked off and the excitement, fans, singing, cheers reverberated in the stadium; an experience hard to describe is one of the must have’s in Buenos Aires. The game was slow in the first half but soon picked up pace in the second and the stadium erupted with the first goal by Argentina. We all jumped up in joy and cheered along with the fans but alas our joy was short lived as Brazil soon put one in to tie the game. The game was now being played at a great pace and everyone was on their edge of seats hoping for that miracle goal. Lo and behold, Argentina put the second one in with a scorching hit and stadium was deafening with loud cheers and Mexican waves. The seconds, minutes ticked by and we hoped the score remained as we really wanted to see the Argentina pull this off. One of my friends expressed it will be cool if we had penalty shootout but rest of us did not want to take the chance and hoped to pull it off during regular time.

Here’s an interesting story that exemplifies our ignorance of local football game rules/traditions 🙂 As the final seconds winded down we started to walk towards the stadium exit hoping to avoid mad rush at the end. We were surprised to see everyone in the stadium rooted to their seats and even saw a gathering of officials on the pitch at the end of the game. We assumed the winning team was being given a cup and locals stayed on to cheer the team. We were surprised to hear occasional loud cheers in the stadium as we strolled around the stadium trying to find taxi and wondered why they were cheering so many times for the cup ceremony. Back in San Telmo area we settled down to have dinner and were surprised to see somber mood of fellow locals as we were smiling away giving thumbs up that Argentina won. One of the waiter even expressed in broken Spanglish that Argentina lost. We were confused!! Something was missing and we were shocked and kicked ourselves when we were explained what we missed. Apparently, it was a 2 game friendly series and that night victory gave a 1-1 tie between Argentina and Brazil. So the winner was decided on penalty shoot-out. Lol…our ignorance of the rules and our ineptitude in Spanish language/communication with locals robbed us the excitement of watching the penalty shootout. We were embarrassed and everyone back at the hostel at a hearty laugh. Sadly, Argentina lost in the penalty shootout!! All in all, a day none of us will ever forget in our lives.

We sadly had to say our first good bye; our Swiss friend was moving on to continue his adventure and it was not fun. We hoped that one day we will cross roads again, maybe a trip to Switzerland sometime in the future. Later in the morning my friend and I went to the Uruguay consulate hoping to get a visitor visa. Montevideo, capital of Uruguay was only 1.5 hr. boat ride from Buenos Aires and we heard great stories of the wonderful city. Unfortunately we could not get the visa!! We came back to San Telmo and decided to try out the Indian restaurant that we had stumbled upon earlier in the week. It was nostalgic eating the famous Indian delicacy, chicken biryani 🙂 Food was tasteful but expensive by normal standards. It was time to spend our high calories intake 🙂 and we decided to take a tour of the underground tunnels of Buenos Aires – El Zanjon on Defensa Street in San Telmo. It was fascinating peek of a series of underground tunnels under a 150+ year old mansion. The 1 hr. guided tour was intriguing and gave a great hindsight of the city’s history and early settlements. The old mansion has been carefully restored with a great care and it is spotless and immaculately maintained. We were impressed with 2 things; first our guide spoke immaculate English, a rare find in the city of Buenos Aires and second they have one of the best restrooms, which is so clean that it will put any 5+ star hotel to shame 🙂

All of us were very excited that night as we had planned to try out Tango at one of the famous milonga clubs of Buenos Aires, La Confiteria Ideal. Ohh, I forgot!! A day earlier our group got a new addition Mr. Sean Connery. Lol, No he’s not the one and only greatest Mr. Bond but a great guy, from the land of Dutch, who was given the famous name by our Irish friends 🙂 Well, my friend and I got new names too; I hate to give it out but what the hell!! My friend was called out as “Shredder” and I at the beginning was “Denzel” and soon changed to “Denzel-Obama”. It was crazy but hey we had to accept it, after all who can argue with the Irish 🙂 So out we all went to experience Tango, a dance that most Argentinian’s use to express their passion, love and spirit and  is a great visual treat which is a must have experience if you visit the city. Personally we did not think La Confiteria is the best place especially due to our experience with an overzealous gentlemen who was literally forcing us to pay for dance classes and orchestra that was being conducted afterwards. We politely declined and just paid for dance classes. Well, he did not let us off easily and we had to really run away from him to the dance floor.  It was a great experience learning the nuances of Tango; well we had our share of fiasco by stepping on each other shoes and it was the least of our worries.  There were a bunch of people sitting around the floor and we all gave them a hell of show of how not to dance Tango 🙂 But we all were having great fun and I think we did manage to learn few basic steps which really made us appreciate those tango dancers. After sweating out for an hour we managed to slip out hiding from the overzealous guy before he again pestered us to see the orchestra. All in all, a great experience and we can tick off “Tango dance in Buenos Aires” from our bucket list 🙂 Who would have imagined Irish, Dutch and Indian travelers dancing tango in Buenos Aires, but that’s the beauty of traveling, staying in a hostel and meeting people. A late dinner followed we were ready to hit the sack as a new adventure was awaiting us the next day.

A new day and we were all ready for a tour outside the city. Gauchos, Argentine version of cowboys, play a great symbolic role in the spirit of country and the culture is still treasured.  A 1.5 hr. bus ride from the city will give you a great experience of the gaucho culture and you will be bowled over by their amazing display of affection, sumptuous food and wonderful show of talent. As soon as we stepped out of the bus we were greeted by a man well into his 50’s who wore a cowboy hat, a huge knife on his belt, high boots and a warm smile. As we entered this ranch we were welcomed with drinks and snacks, Empanadas.  I love Empanadas but alas they were made with beef and I politely refused and tried to explain in my half broken Spanish-sign language that I eat chicken but not beef. I saw bewildered looks from the poor lady and later I realized how much they valued guests. After 5 minutes I saw another lady walk up to me with our guide to enquire if I was not happy with anything. I was moved by their hospitality and when I explained taking the help of our guide, the gaucho lady took me along to another room and offered me cheese empanadas that were carefully wrapped in a basket. There were more than 200 people that day and seeing this wonderful lady’s concern to make me happy completely bowled me away. I thanked her with the bottom of my heart. By the way, empanadas were excellent 🙂

Oh, what a fun day followed!! We all started off taking a ride on the horses. I wish we could have galloped at a faster pace but I’m glad I did not fall off too 🙂 The ranch also had horse carriage rides in the open field and we heard loud cheers and singing from that direction. Of course it was not a surprise to see our jolly Irish friends, who finished riding the horses earlier, were in the carriage singing Irish songs and cheering wildly. Trust Irish to have boisterous fun 🙂 A grand lunch fit for a king followed and the icing on the cake was the amazing show by the gauchos. The food was tasty, served in plenty and there was a lots n lot of free wine disappearing from our table. Poor fellas never should have decided to serve unlimited wine 🙂 During the lunch I got acquainted with a lovely couple from Belgium and nice girl from South Africa. It felt great to hear the wonderful stories shared by the couple and you could see the timeless treasure of love between them. The girl from South Africa was a psychologist and she was spending a month in Buenos Aires partly on vacation and also to get acquainted with people to understand human nature and their behavior. It’s such a great idea as there’s no better way to learn about the world and people than traveling and enjoying the experience firsthand.

Words fall short for me to describe those surreal moments!! Here I was in a different country sitting down at a table having a grand lunch, being treated like a king by the hosts, having conversation with people who had traveled far and wide from all over the world and I was enjoying every moment just like I would with my own family. Sometimes it’s surprising how one can feel the emotional bond within few moments or days which at times might take an eternity to feel the same. Our table was getting noisier and I could see the wine was finally taking effect on my friends’ 🙂  The show was definitely heating up; the passionate tango dance show, amazing showcase of skills and music caused a stir in the crowd and you could see everyone reverberating with joy. People were truly having fun and it was a great sight to see all of them joining the fun and dancing by the stage.  The lovely afternoon was capped off by a show of horse riding skills by the gauchos. The talented riders showcased all the skills of balance, synchronization, stunts and grace. Many of the ladies in the audience were given a chance to ride on the back and the ladies swooned at the handsome and talented gaucho gentlemen 🙂 Our Irish friends were getting ready to fight each other to lay claim on a handsome young man and ironically I had to push my South African friend to take a ride behind him 🙂 apparently she did not like his deadpan face. Oh!! It was one hell of a crazy bus ride back with our Irish friends singing away in glory. I would be understating if I said we were center of attraction 🙂 Very soon our friends made plans with fellow companions to meet up for drinks and dinner that night at an Irish bar.

Most of them headed to the meet up that night except two of us. We decided to stay back and relax and shared the nice evening talking about each other life experiences. It’s amazing how one can feel at ease and share with someone if the latter shows compassion and is eager to lend their ear. We took late evening walk and had dinner at the same restaurant where we all had our first supper. Very soon we were joined by a group of English blokes with whom we had a chance encounter few days back. One of the blokes was a constant force behind our entertaining conversations. As we relaxed at the hostel our friends soon came back from their evening outing and it looked like they all had a blast. Apparently my buddy had a pleasant evening talking to a local girl and he was kicking himself for not getting her contact information 🙂  In all another great evening passed by and I truly will cherish those subtle moments of one on one conversation, walk and dinner with my Irish friend.

Argentina is famous for leather; my friend and I decided to venture next day to the shopping district to splurge some money. We decided to test the public transport of BA and had to take 2 subways to land in the leather district. The subways were a visual treat with amazing graffiti on all the bogies. As most guys do, we walked into the first leather store we set our eyes on and I bought the jacket. 🙂 I was really impressed by the owner who spoke passionately about the history of the store and how confident he was about the quality of his work to give a life time guarantee. Later we decided to take our lunch at a nearby place recommended by the owner. Very soon we were joined by the same couple we had seen earlier shopping at the store. A really interesting 45 minute conversation followed 🙂 They were from Brazil and were traveling to BA on a short vacation. Here’s the interesting part, they both did not know English and my friend and I had no clue of Portuguese. But thanks to sign language, half-baked Spanglish and painfully slow conversation we were able to learn enough about each other and develop a nice relationship. Trust me it was really amazing how we managed to connect so well. One should see the palpable joy on their faces each time we understood what they were trying to convey and was great to see how such simple things in life can make one happy. Apparently the gentleman was a vice mayor of the city and both of them were lawyers by profession. It was really nice to know them and we were promised a tour of their city if we ever visited their place.  I now knew two more people from Brazil in addition to a pair of Brazilian friends I had met earlier in the hostel. One of the friends from the hostel works for a police bomb squad; isn’t it cool to know someone in the police force 🙂 hopefully I would not need his official help during my adventures in Brazil. In the evening my friend and I decided to visit another Tango dance club and we were mesmerized by a couple who put up a passionate show.

Sunday dawned on us and very soon we realized our trip was coming to the end. My friend was leaving that night and our Irish friends and I were departing the following day. It was really sweet of our Irish friends to offer to cook dinner. My friend and I decided to spend the day at San Telmo market again as we did not get a chance to explore everything on the first day. As we strolled in the market my friend was adventurous to try out the national drink called maté; historically it was a drink that was shared among friends in a social setting. The lady who owned the restaurant was so kind to actually sit at our table and show how the drink is prepared all the while explaining the tradition and history behind it. We got a chance to see more talented musicians and artists performing all through the market. We even got a chance to see an old jail housed in center of the market. After long walk through the day we were ready for our Irish dinner. 🙂 It was delicious and I really felt the taste of rice, chicken and vegetables preparation was very close to what I cook at home, of course less spicy than Indian food!! 🙂 It was nostalgic sitting and having dinner together in the very same dining area where we all had met for first time 7 days ago. It was a wonderful journey with full of memories.  I felt this was a true travel experience; a combination of fascinating local journey and memorable relationship one develops with fellow travelers/locals.

It was an emotional parting seeing my friend off that night and I could see that my friend had to literally drag himself out from there. I’m sure he was not happy leaving the pleasant experience behind to go back to professional world that at times can be labyrinthine and mundane. It was a slow night to pass by and rest of us lazed around in the hostel. We shared our experiences and promised to keep in communication and hopefully meet again for another exciting adventure. The next day I took time to finish reading my book. Kudos to the Blake Mycoskie!! What an inspiring journey and it was beautifully narrated which really inspires one to take up social responsibility. I really hope to get inspired and work towards making a difference to those in need.  Blake expresses in the book how he realized there’s no limit to materialistic needs and how he regretted leading a luxury life. He eventually moved out of his apartment to live on a boat. Of course he’s not suggesting everyone to do the same but he’s asking each one of us take a step back before indulging in extravagance and ask oneself – Do I really need this? Can I use it to make a difference in someone’s life?

The day arrived!! We were all parting our ways. The girls were headed to the famous Iguazu Falls, one of the many wonders planned in their year long trip.  It was really tough for all of us to say good bye. My manager at work is an Irish and over the years I have always admired for his work ethics and most of all the joy and fun he brought in a gathering. The wonderful trip with these girls inculcated my belief that Irish people are very affectionate and joyous people. You can’t help but love enjoying their company and one should treasure friendship and relationship with these amazing people. It’s really amazing how I was so emotionally connected within a week’s time; as one says u really don’t years and years of acquaintance to build that special bond, with a special person time is not essence.

I was sure I would be meeting them again but just never imagined it would be that soon. Oh, what a lovely vacation followed in less than 4 weeks in Brazil 🙂 it’s another wonderful story that I hope to pen down some day. Serene Beaches, Samba Culture and much more!! As I took the road to the airport, my thoughts were filled with emotions and I knew this journey will be etched in memory for an adventure of life time, gaining wonderful perspective of social responsibility and most important of all starting great relationships. I hope and truly wish everyone enjoys their travels and experiences life changing moments. As the saying goes, Life has an expiry date, ENJOY IT!!

Denzel signing off !! 🙂

Buenos Aires

 

Posted by: viksav | June 29, 2012

Affordable Health Care Act…”Obama Health Care”

The thoughts expressed here are just my humble opinion and I’m not an expert.

I fail to understand the criticism of the new health care act. The act mandates everyone to have health insurance. It clearly states that you can keep your insurance and opt for the govt. offered insurance only if you like. The govt. offered insurance has various options based on your income level and affordability. We are being given options and not being forced to opt for govt. sponsored insurance.

How different is this from Car Insurance? Isn’t it mandated to have car insurance? You might never use it but you are required to have one. You might own a Ferrari, BMW or a Kia… you pay insurance for the benefits and coverage for that one off accident in future. Why’s healthcare different? Co-incidentally I had this discussion with my colleague and he expressed that one can choose not to have car insurance and not to drive but this healthcare mandates everyone to buy health insurance. My question was simple – Yes, I agree one may never drive a car but will a person without health insurance guarantee that he/she will never go to emergency care ? Or visit hospital? It’s practically impossible. The reason for spiraling health costs to an extent can be attributed to greedy insurance companies/and doctors but we cannot ignore the costs of “emergency medical services” catered to uninsured people. All of these costs associated to emergency medical services are supported by state/federal budget. As the funds from health budget keep depreciating, Medicare and other social services for elderly get affected. Their continued support spirals down to budget deficits. This in turn forces the govt. to borrow (resulting in debt) or increase tax?  Who gets finally affected? The working class people who have been paying taxes and who have insurance.

I see certain section of media has echoed and is misrepresenting the Supreme Court judgment that govt. has a right to penalize people who don’t have insurance just like a tax. They concentrated on the term “tax” and expressed that now everyone will have to pay taxes. What?? Yes, there will be a penalty for not having insurance because someday you are going to use the health care services and cause a burden to the govt. budget and in turn cause a burden to people around you for no fault of theirs. Since health care cannot be refused at emergency services you cannot misuse the service and not be responsible to contribute to the fund. The penalty of 2% of one’s income for not having insurance is being directed to federal healthcare budget that will help in catering to such irresponsible people in future.

In some cases even people have been refused insurance by the providers because of pre-existing conditions or because they have terminal diseases. The insurance providers fail to understand that eventually these people will take the health services through emergency care. Who pays for it? The new health care act mandates that all insurance companies should provide health care to everyone. People see that as a reason for health care costs going up. I can see their point that since more people are using health benefits it will result in increased costs. But, you have an option to choose more affordable govt. insurance. Private insurance companies have to be competitive else they don’t stand to have customers. Always in a bigger pool of people, the costs are distributed as only a small percentage is claiming the benefits (in this case availing the health care). This is how car insurance works now.

I think one has to really read and understand more in depth the law and the benefits it can provide instead of being misguided by the politicians or general media. Unfortunately we choose to be led rather than lead.

http://www.healthcare.gov/

Do I have an ideal partner??? This thought can be intriguing to a bubbly and zealous 18 years old teen; to a blossoming and audacious 30 year old professional; and also, to a mature and wise 60 year old retiree. Discussions on ideal partner can be a never ending topic with perspectives and parallels offered by young and wise that it can be overwhelming for those in search of the IDEAL one.

I have been one of those unfortunate one’s who was barged from all corners with words of wisdom…as deemed by those who preached. On compiling the two cent’s worth of all the wise men, it confused me that some believed in “Mutual respect, Accommodate, Encourage…” while some preferred “Control, Preach, Demand…” as roots for a successful marriage. Even just considering all the positive qualities can bemuse anyone while prioritizing them in order of importance.

Anyways…as my thoughts wandered and spun around this topic, I recalled a great discussion with my friend during my college days. Ha-ha…yes, as 21 year old what else can be a good topic to talk about but this…”What qualities are important in my life partner?” It was an interesting discussion and it was fun at the beginning as we started listing as Sexy, hour-glass figure, tall, very fair etc. but I really liked the list that came out of our deliberation. We called it 5 H’s, and planned to seek those qualities in our search.

Humility, Honesty, Heart, Humor and Head.

Interestingly, both of us prioritized the qualities in the same order of importance as seen above. It’s been a while since we last talked about this but frankly even after entering professional world, mature and wiser, I have not deviated much on those priorities. I know it is different at the “time of decision”, as families and their preferences play a more influential part on one’s decision. But, alas, it is not easy for the families to recognize the existence of these qualities before influencing their decision.

It will be nice to know the general perspective of people, who have their own ideas and thoughts. But before I leave, I guess I am answerable as to what the above qualities really mean and how they came up in our discussion. Here it goes….

Humility: We analyzed that in any relation, friendship or marital, “ego: the sound of –I”, always is the slow poison that brings an end to the blissful moments. The moment any person starts believing – “I can think only right… I can do only right…what I see is right…and I am the best”, it is the beginning of doom in every aspect – be it career or marital relationship.

We concluded that as life partners if we can humbly acknowledge each other thoughts without any qualms, accept each other shortcomings without disdain and approach each other for solace it will help in invigorating the relationship into a strong marital bliss.

Honesty: There is an absolute need to be honest at the commencement of a relationship. Being honest about one’s social, professional, personal and family life will only help in understanding each others lifestyle, goals, ideals and commitments.

Fear of repercussions in short term, is always a major factor in one’s decision to cross the line of honesty. But alas, as time will tell, a relationship that starts/continues with dishonesty hardly stands a chance to go all the way to marital bliss.

Thus, it demands a lot of will power from one to be honest to their new life partner, but, if one can draw that courage, marital bliss is sure to follow.

Heart: We here were referring to…Love, Affection & Romance. In this fast paced world with each of us tangled in professional, social and personal commitments, it becomes imperative as life partners to able to fill each others life with love and affection. It always helps for anyone to have a shoulder to rest, an ear to hear and a smile that will bring serenity.

Romance also plays a big part in marital relationship and often partners tend to lose it after few years of marriage. It is never too late to express your romantic feelings and each of us always cherish n luv to be an eye candy of someone.

Humor: All of us can be easily bogged down with activities around our lives by day and night. Sometimes it becomes so mechanical that, with a little retrospect, we will realize we have become machines – jobs, careers, marriage, kids, savings, family etc…. Life can easily turn into a nightmare due to unfortunate circumstances or misfortune.

It will help immensely to have a life partner who can bring humor in any given point of life, as a smile can give you immense strength to overcome any adversity. It is always nice to “Live n Smile for the Day” – then, nothing will seem to be impossible to achieve.

Head: It becomes practical in this modern world to have a life partner who can think positively. A life partner who is intelligent & well educated can easily communicate effectively in public and also raise one’s family with focus on education and morals.

An educated family is always well respected among friends and community; and, those life partners who are intelligent & educated always think progressively and resolve issues in a rational manner.

Posted by: viksav | March 4, 2009

Where do I live…I am 60?

Sweet 16 always seems to be magical, twenties is wild, mid-life is all about success and family but what happens at 60????

I had an interesting discussion with my friends over the weekend – Where should the parents stay, after their children get married or when they become old??. We  had a healthy talk and each one of us had our own views and facts. The next day as I retrospected, it intrigued me as to how this situation is handled across the world and across multifarious cultures.

I started first to think about the culture in USA and immediately a strong voice of protest rose in my mind that expressed my  displeasure towards the children who hate the idea of resident parents. It’s become a tradition for the children to move out of their parents house at the onset of their marriage. Sometimes, they move out much before if they are professionally well settled.  I like the fact that they don’t want to burden their parents financially and I guess sometimes it is also argued that they would like to give more privacy to their parents. I completely understand and concur the thought process…but what happens when they turn 60?; and start losing their financial earnings; and begin their slow process of losing social life; and eventually tread the treacherous path of losing the important senses – eyes, nose,tongue,ear &skin (these senses known as Gyanendriya, in Ayurveda – ancient Indian system of medicine ).

In United States, it is not uncommon to see at many places old people struggling to do their daily chores – walking to the convenience stores, banks, hospitals etc. Some old people yearn to have a 1/2-1 hour talk with their near n dear.  Is this all happening because they want to live independent ?; Or, is this because they have no children to take care of them?; Or, is this because of negligence/ insensitiveness of  their children who dread the idea of resident parents??. I guess this is a big controversial statement – I agree I have seen only some segments (mostly urban communities) of the country – United States. I did hear people claim, that they ensure their parents are treated well at the “Assisted Living” or at the “Rehabilitation Centers” and thus have fulfilled their duty of take and give policy. Nay…Nay, I totally disagree to this. Life is not always about monetary support; that  it revolves largely on social and emotional support is to be understood by many.

Interestingly when I discussed this issue with some experienced professionals , they told me that situation as seen now in United States was not the same till late 1960’s. I was told the industrial revolution led many people to leave their parents and home’s to embrace the new world of success, money & fame. As years passed away, people got so busy with their lives that they neither felt the urge to go back nor got second thoughts to invite their parents.  Soon it became a tradition for children to leave their homes for greener pastures. The situation finally led to a point wherein the parents were forced to look after themselves. Decades later, the situation has only worsened and it makes me wonder why people can’t take a minute and think – ” How in the world could I have become what I am now , without the emotional & social support of my parents? Am I being a dutiful child in return?”

Alas, I have no knowledge of other countries except for one another country – India. India, a country with centuries of history, culture, ethnicity has seen multitude of changes. Nations have plundered it and ruled over it…but age old traditions never vanished. I stand corrected here….maybe it is about to in the current generation?? Traditions have been a strong binding factor for families in India and this was true across the sects and religions. For centuries, the word family signified love, cohesion, respect and genuine understanding among members and the large families of yore usually comprised of  grand parents, parents and children. It was a belief that a large mutually connected family encourages healthy division of labor for sustenance and mutual benefit.

But as preached to us by many wise people, things will never be the same forever. Post independence and in to the mid-eighties of the last century, traditions soon began to disappear and the big families of yore were replaced by smaller  nuclear families – Parents and Children. Big cities and challenges were all inviting and emphasis on education for their children forced parents to move towards urban livings. Hmm…does this not sound as the industrial revolution in far East??? Well, at least in the last two decades entering  into the new millennium Y2K, smaller nuclear families flourished. It was usually the duty of a son to take care of his parents even after he gets married and has his own children. The son was regarded as a sole support for aging parents – I stand to be corrected here again as there have been many cases wherein daughters have come forward to take the responsibility. In any case, children were forthcoming and eager to reside with parents.

The new millennium brought a sea of change to India. Technology bloomed, young educated graduates were in plenty, jobs and money were not a question. This is a new revolution in a traditional India…slowly the buzz words were “West is coming to East”. Yes, absolutely, everything is on move, and the world started slowly to become globalized. But alas, modern age with its fast-paced life took a huge toll on personal lives of people. The lifestyles are more contemporary and the young professionals in their pursuit of the new world failed to attain the perpetual joy derived from love, mutual respect and emotional support ensconced in a happy family. The young couples smitten by money, fame and independence have distanced themselves from their parents. In some cases the reason for this separation is also pointed to the inability of the new girl in the family to adjust to the boy’s parents. All in all, the result is the same…The East is moving to be like the West even culturally.

I would love to think it is different in other countries of the world. But…I guess we can only hope. I feel there are so many questions unanswered here and also it demands everyone one of us to have a retrospective on this.

  • Why do we believe our parents are a burden in their dire need of emotional and social support? It is said that people act like kids when they become old as they have very little control of their important senses. If our parents can take care and guide us when we are kids then why can’t we return the favor??
  • It is easy to provide monetary support but providing emotional support demands lots of love, patience and sacrifice. Our parents were kind enough to provide us everything without throwing us in Dormitories/hostels and paying through their troubles. Then why do we dread to take up the opportunity to repay?? Why do believe that by just providing monetary support and accommodating them in assisted livings/rehabilitation centers is the solution??
  • It is said that a family acts as the first and most important teacher for a highly impressionable mind of newly born child. What do we convey to them by showing how we treat our parents?? What should we then expect??
  • When a new person walks in our life and becomes a life partner, do we need to forget our past ?? If  either of the couple believe that taking care of  the parents is a  burden, should we not then question ourselves this…If  a person cannot care of his/her own parents, whom he/she has known for last 20-30 years , then how will he/she ever take care of me??

WILL WE ALL EVER BE LIKE THIS –

A HAPPY FAMILY

Posted by: viksav | February 28, 2009

Hello world!

It will be a great pleasure to share my passionate moments in life. A world that is so big as ours gives us all an opportunity to share, learn and relive moments of our lives that will only add more meaning to our mere existence.

I am 29 and the journey I have been through is nothing less exciting than a roller coaster ride and  it has taught me innumerable lessons of life. I believe and am sure it will be no less exciting as I plunge into my next phase of life in a world full of opportunities, passions and glorified moments. The best part of our lives is the “Uncertainty” that is involved in every next minute we breathe.

Today, I spent considerable amount of time retrospecting my last 29 years.  The sweet moments of young life, the adventurous activities 0f teen life, the memorable moments of graduating years and the pulsating life of  my professional career brought a bliss to my heart as I flipped through letters, autograph books, pictures and videos. It was great reliving those moments and I really wished I could share this with someone.

With these thoughts in mind, I suddenly realized the great potential in blogging wherein I can have an opportunity to connect and share with people around the world. Also, I have to admit, another inspiration for me to start blogging is my visit to a blog site of a person . As I read the article, that explained the “world of thoughts” emotionally felt by the  person on that particular day, it transformed me in to that person’s world and I felt I was living and enjoying those moments along with the person.

This transformed my thoughts that blogging is waste of time and it gave me an inspiration to share my experiences, thus give an opportunity to a small percentage of world who would like to relive those moments.

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