1. Where do you come from?
I am from a small and beautiful town called Athirampuzha. In fact, this place is in the district of Kottayam in central Kerala.
2. What kind of place is it?
Basically, it is a trading place. People from the surrounding areas come to my place to buy vegetables, fish and grocery. We have a large pool in the heart of the town which is connected to other places by a network of canals. When I was a small boy, water transport was very popular and country boats would come in large numbers for trading purposes. It was wonderful to see trading boats crowd in the large body of water for loading and unloading goods. But today, you can hardly see any water transport and such boats have disappeared for ever, and large trucks have replaced them.
3. What would you suggest a visitor your hometown should see or do?
It is difficult to suggest a particular place, but I think, the pool and the canals are an interesting site. You can also go for a boating through the canal. On your way you have beautiful paddy fields, on either side. Another important place that a visitor can see is our church which was built a few centuries ago. It has got an ancient alter ornamented with wooden carvings of saints and angels. Another attraction is a large church bell, which was imported from Germany in the 18th century. There is also a famous Siva Temple in our neighbouring town of Ettumanoor. This is a well-known pilgrim centre.
4. What is the most interesting part of your home area?
Again, I would say it is the pool. Most of the activities of the town take place around this area. There is a fish market on one side and a vegetable market on the other. Especially on market days, that is Mondays and Thursdays, the whole place is full of activity.
5. What kind of jobs do the people in your town/village do?
Although it is basically a trading place, majority of people are not engaged in business. My town is thickly populated and the people are quite educated. So many of them have jobs, especially in the district headquarters of Kottayam, either in the government or private sector. There are teachers, lawyers, nurses, doctors and other professionals. A few of them are also engaged in agricultural activities. Certainly, there are a number of businessmen as well.
1. A gift or article your treasure most
What the article was
Where you got it
How you preserve it
Why it is very precious to you
Something that I treasure most is my IBM laptop, which was not actually a gift. Although it is quiet old it never had any serious technical problems, except a few software crashes, ever since I bought it about 8 years ago.
Well, I bought it from a friend of mine who has a computer business. He suggested the brand and I think I made the right choice by buying an IBM lap top. Technically, the components of my computer are of very superior quality and therefore, in spite of my constant use, I have never changed any parts.
Although I have a leather laptop container, I rarely use it now. I used to put it in a leather bag initially, but later, due to my laziness, I just leave it on my study table. Sometimes it gathers a lot dust and occasionally I wipe it with a towel. I would say my laptop is very untidily kept but by God’s grace it keeps working.
My laptop is very precious to me because I type my notes in it and use it for presentations in my class and meetings. Sometimes I watch movies in it. I also have stored a lot of data and personal information in my computer. After my office hours I spend long hours in front of my computer either browsing the net or studying.
1. Do you think if people have become more or less materialistic in the last 25 years?
What I feel is, people’s attitude towards material things have not changed over the last 25 years. The only difference is that today we have greater access to comforts and luxuries unlike in the past, and we have enough money to buy them and so we enjoy them. For this reason, many people tend to say that materialism is on the increase. Actually, that is not the case. If people in the past had access to such things and if they had as much money as we have today, they would have definitely enjoyed luxuries. The only difference is the economic progress that we have made. The attitude towards materialism remains the same always.
I feel that people have definitely become more materialistic during the last 25 years. Formerly, comforts and luxuries were not available to people as much as we have today. May be, people were little more idealistic and they had better human relationships. Especially in rural communities, you know, people maintained traditional values in families and social life. Whereas, today the situation has changed. Urbanisation has forced people to be more individualistic and achievement oriented. Material achievement has become a major purpose in life and therefore, I think, other values of life have taken a back seat.
2. What kind of gifts children usually like?
Children usually like chocolates, toys and electronic games. You know, for example, if you go to a shop with your children, you will see them running to the toy corner or the chocolate rack. These days, a lot of children have a great liking towards electronic games. There are many children who like, cartoons and story books too. So when if you plan to give a gift to a child next time, think of these things.
3. What kinds of things give a sense of prestige to people today?
From my personal experience, I feel, material possessions can give a great deal of prestige to people today. For example, if you have a luxurious car or a beautifully designed house it can give you a sense of pride. Another important criterion for prestige is political power at different levels, which can make you popular and accepted by the society. Superior positions in government services can also definitely give you prominence in the society. What I mean is, senior police officers, judges and similar officials have great prestige in the society. Apart from that, superior education can give you a lot of honour among people. Certain professionals like doctors, engineers and teachers are respected in the society.
4. What kind of things were status symbols in your grandfather’s time?
Although I am not very sure, money and other material possessions were status symbols even in my grandparents’ time. I think, people who had a lot of land were considered honourable in the society. Superior education and political power were also considered status symbols at that time. I believe, basically, the status symbols people of all ages are generally the same.
5. What kind of things are women usually attracted to?
Women are generally fond of good clothes and ornaments. If you go to a textile store or jewellery shop the majority of the shoppers are usually women. This means that there is a certain vanity in women and they love to flaunt their beauty. They are also attracted to cosmetics. Many women buy a lot of house hold appliances and crockery.
6. Do you think people purchase a lot of things for prestige and not because of genuine need?
Certainly, today if you have money to spare, you certainly buy things that can show off your wealth. Although you may not need such luxurious items, you buy them because you want others to look upon you. For example, one of the considerations for many people, when they choose a car, is whether a particular car is used by the elite in the society. Or, even if the family is a small one, people build huge houses and many of the rooms are unused for years. Prestige is a serious consideration for many people these days.
7. What will be the kind of things that will give a sense of prestige to people in future?
Even in the future wealth will be major determining factor that will a sense of prestige to people. Education, the expertise in technology and communication abilities also will give a sense of pride to people.