Swati CA

Swati_CA column in The Hindu Business Line

Monday, July 24, 2006

"Should I alert the supervisor, or advise the young man... against shoplifting?" I wondered.

Is shoplifting the bane of retail that needs to be battled with?
One evening, a couple of days ago, I was frustrated that I could not make a quick meal, all because the provisions in the shelf had gone dry. Namak was there, but no mirchi; the tavva was clean and dry, but so was the tael bottle! Sure signs of neglect in the kitchen, after weeks of running around, I realised. Perhaps, it was time to go shopping and I decided on the neighbourhood departmental store.
There, I found interesting things in each section; there were new products, unusual combos, and attractive offers. Suddenly, I noticed that a young man, standing a few feet away, was quickly pocketing an item that he picked up from the shelf. The floor supervisor was in the vicinity, but he was looking elsewhere.
"Should I alert the supervisor, or advise the young man... against shoplifting?" I wondered. But, as providence would have it, the culprit vanished faster than I could get the supervisor's attention.
Returning home with a heavy shopping bag, I found that my mind was heavier after what I had seen in the store. I kept asking myself if shoplifting is the bane of retail that needs to be battled with. Send in your thoughts by Friday.


Tuesday night was a hectic one, ever since we came to know about the blasts in Mumbai...

Are we, as a nation, doing enough to root terrorism out of our midst?
Tuesday night was a hectic one, ever since we came to know about the blasts in Mumbai. At a macro level, there was all that spilt blood with a story of its own of a nation's security ripped apart. At a micro level, we were frantically trying to contact our colleagues in the Mumbai branch. After many hours, we could learn that our manager Navin Thakkar had suffered injuries in the blast. Other staff members were safe. Boss called me over the intercom and said, "Urgent!" I dashed in, and said, before he could ask me, "Sir, I'll go to Mumbai."
I had visited the branch last year, after the floods, if you remember ('How to ensure business continuity despite deluge,' August 15, 2005). This time, my top priority was the well-being of my colleagues, and so I headed straight to the ward where Navin had been admitted.
As providence would have it, Navin was among the lucky few who suffered minor injuries. But more than the suffering that the shrapnels caused him, Navin was deep in the trauma of having witnessed horrific deaths right in front of his eyes. When I met him, he sat up to narrate the sequence of events that was so vivid in his memory, and had so deeply scarred his sensitivities. Within a few minutes, however, the sedative that the doctor had administered took control, and Navin fell asleep.
Already, the city was back on its toes, with trains full, and almost everybody was at work. Business as usual, it seemed, and that was a reassuring thought. But what pained me was the nagging thought that we, as a nation, aren't apparently doing enough to root terrorism out of our midst. Send in your thoughts by Friday.


Monday, July 10, 2006

You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita

If only we stopped living in our status silos, at least for a brief while

On Wednesday evening, when the weather was unusually humid indoors, I decided to venture out to the nearby playground, adjoining a Corporation primary school, with a football I had brought from my recent trip to Germany. Idly, I was trying out a few shots at the goal, as if preparing for a penalty shootout moment. "Give me chance, akka," called a little girl who had come from the surrounding bunch of huts.
Well, we both took turns at the goal, and soon enough, there were six to seven children from the locality joining the game. They were all poor, coming as they did from what most of us would brand as slums.


Monday, July 03, 2006

What is the medicine for the drug fear?

How can parents be sure that their children aren't getting into drugs?
On Thursday evening, my colleague Vasanti insisted that I accompany her to the beach. It had drizzled in the afternoon and the weather was pleasant, so I agreed. The evening was gradually turning to darkness. And Vasanti was unusually silent. "How is your son?" I asked, remembering that her son, the only child, was in college. "I have been worrying about him... " her voice trailed. "Studies?" I asked. She shook her head. "He seems to be doing well in class. Of late, he has been remaining aloof from me." I laughed, "A girl, perhaps!" Vasanti's face turned sombre, "No, Swati, I am anxious that my son doesn't get into drugs!"


Amidst farmers driven to suicide...

Are we doing enough to renew our farmers' faith in life?
Kosavi, the farmer in question, was on the bed, writhing in pain, and a bottle of poison lay on the floor. Dr Prem Gawande, the doctor we had brought with us, was trying his best to bring Kosavi back to the world of the living. Around us were scenes of deprivation, the hut presenting a spectacle of poverty in deep freeze.