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Guest Bobbyblue18

Loss of connectivity for Sikhs

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Guest Bobbyblue18

Twice in a matter of days I have encountered 2 fellow Sikh lads both in their mid 20's in different areas in my life. I am 42 and both of them have disappointed me greatly to the extent to post my encounters on the forum here, as I believe somehow, somewhere a message has got lost and I am at a loss to explain why. These 2 things I am about to describe are trivial but the bigger picture here is the loss I feel of community and sikhi spirit. 

I am a kid of the 1980's and early 90's. I grew up in a suburb of Birmingham that had a large sikh community. Everyone knew us and we knew everyone. There were Asian shops and businesses around and would help each other out. Every elder was "uncle" or "auntie".

So lets get back to 2018. I am purchasing a musical instrument for my son. There is an upcoming event involving the Sikh community as I am sure you're all aware and he has been given the honour and privilege to play there, seva. So we agree that a new instrument is required as he has outgrown the current one. I approach a shop here in the midlands that specialises in these things. We find a suitable instrument and then ask for the current in the shop (proprietor's son?) to do us a deal. Flatly refuses. I didn't ask it for free, neither for a ridiculous 50% off or something, just a few pounds to knock off as in India these things are £100 and I am paying nearly times as much just about. The instrument supposed to come with a couple of nominal accessories which he wouldn't include, one of them just about as a small decoration. I explained we are fellow Sikhs. Nothing. I explained we are doing Nagar Kirtan Seva. Nothing. No goodwill, no well done what your doing, please come back and we'll sort out any probs etc. Frankly the arrogance and greed I found breath-taking.  

Part 2 - The sequel even worse!

So we now are getting musical lessons to get my lad upto speed. Through various contacts we find a good player and they "bond". Only he has a spare musical instrument for £400 plus. Not only can we not afford that but I don't think it is worth that much money. We politely refuse. Few days later we get the new one as above and the player is aggrieved we haven't purchased the one from him for a further £100 extra and that either take the one we bought back, let him take it apart to show how "crap" it is and pay him in instalments for his. Arrogance and greed again, breath-taking. 

Seems that our community here has lost something about friendship, community, sikhi spirit, goodwill or are these just a couple of divs that their parents haven't instilled a bit of truth in them?

One day we were doing Langar Da Seva for Vasaikhi, I went with my father to the Sikh owned grocery supermarket. Explained to the nice chap we wish to buy a box of apples for the Gurdwara to Wand. He went to the back of the store and picked the best box he could find, "here uncle, take these, also take these box of oranges for free to give to the Gurdwara on our behalf". "No problem puttar, and thank you". Another time I went into a sikh owned book store to purchase a book for my grandmother who was in hospital for a while. I explained to "auntie" of the book store what I was doing. She said take this one it's about sikh women in history. It was priced at £12 and I passed her £12 and she said no, give me £10 and take my best wishes to your gran and hope she comes out soon. I said thank you auntie. Now both experiences gave me that a) I am part of a great community,  b) To these people it's important to generate goodwill   c) I'll return for sure in the future  d) As Sikhs we are duty bound to take of each other and lets show it.     

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Try and get your instruments through Raj academy, they get good ones and import from India I believe.

I am hoping to going back to learning raag keertan from them soon!

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On 4/16/2018 at 5:00 PM, Guest Bobbyblue18 said:

Twice in a matter of days I have encountered 2 fellow Sikh lads both in their mid 20's in different areas in my life. I am 42 and both of them have disappointed me greatly

Welcome to the forum. Why don't you create a free account to facilitate conversation?

I applaud your desire for Sikhs to stick together and do stuff for our Panth. But I think you are mistaken when you think the burden for that should be on shopkeepers or other service providers.

On 4/16/2018 at 5:00 PM, Guest Bobbyblue18 said:

I didn't ask it for free, neither for a ridiculous 50% off or something, just a few pounds to knock off as in India these things are £100 and I am paying nearly times as much just about

I believe you are mistaken when you think it's not reasonable for musical instruments to be multiple times the price of the same product as in India. The price of a product is always less in the immediate vicinity of where it's produced. 

Do you honestly think that anyone should be surprised that the price of bananas in our homeland of Punjab is multiple times the price in as in banana-producing states like Tamil Nadu?

Not to mention the fact that shipping is not free, takes time (tying up capital), the shopkeeper has to face the risk of fraud by the shipper (or he has to bear the time and expense of going to India himself and dealing with the paperwork to export to England), and also the risk of breakage in shipping, plus pay customs while taking delivery.

Then he has to store the stuff until it's sold. Need I remind you that the parts of England where Sikh shops are located are quite dense, with commensurately expensive real estate. Warehousing inventory is not cheap.

I feel it was unfair of you not to be cognizant of these difficulties of running a business.

On 4/16/2018 at 5:00 PM, Guest Bobbyblue18 said:

Through various contacts we find a good player and they "bond". Only he has a spare musical instrument for £400 plus. Not only can we not afford that but I don't think it is worth that much money. We politely refuse. Few days later we get the new one as above and the player is aggrieved we haven't purchased the one from him for a further £100 extra and that either take the one we bought back, let him take it apart to show how "crap" it is and pay him in instalments for his. Arrogance and greed again, breath-taking. 

You're speaking of stuff of which you have no knowledge, bro. If you had the knowledge you could have just taught your child kirtan yourself.

The fact is most music teachers have very particular views of instruments, practice methods, and a lot of other stuff. (And I'm talking about music teachers in general, including Indians, Englishmen, Americans, etc.) There is also a wide variety in the structure and manufacture of instruments.

You call it arrogance, somebody else could call it experience. Not only that, but they could also call your view ignorance.

And, again, it is unwarranted to call it "greed". It is quite possible that from his perspective, the music teacher was doing you a favor by not forcing you go have to go to India just to buy an instrument.

On 4/16/2018 at 5:00 PM, Guest Bobbyblue18 said:

Seems that our community here has lost something about friendship, community, sikhi spirit, goodwill or are these just a couple of divs that their parents haven't instilled a bit of truth in them?

Those are all good values. But here's another value you're overlooking:

Respect for one's teacher (ustad). In our culture, we respect our teachers immensely.

If you don't like your ustad, you should have investigated and chosen another one.

Also, please don't say the ustad himself is only a kid. I've seen kids under 18 who are ustad-level, because they've been at it for years, and they have acquired knowledge of Raags.

On 4/16/2018 at 5:00 PM, Guest Bobbyblue18 said:

Explained to the nice chap we wish to buy a box of apples for the Gurdwara to Wand. He went to the back of the store and picked the best box he could find, "here uncle, take these, also take these box of oranges for free to give to the Gurdwara on our behalf".

That's great that he did so, but I would caution that he is under no obligation to do so.

You want to be able to go up to a shopkeeper, ask for a discount for religious purposes, and get it. I would rather recommend that everybody pay full price (normal price), and then when you make your offering at the Gurdwara, you get the fruit of having donated.

By doing it the other way, you put the burden on the shopkeeper, and also allow freeloaders to get discounts by lying about donating to the Gurdwara. Why should shopkeepers in our community bear the entire burden? Why shouldn't lawyers, accountants, taxi-drivers, etc. pay full price for goods, and donate them?

Then, with the profit that shopkeepers earn, they can make an offering of their dasvandh.

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19 hours ago, ipledgeblue said:

Try and get your instruments through Raj academy, they get good ones and import from India I believe.

I am hoping to going back to learning raag keertan from them soon!

Their instruments are more expensive - one of my teachers says the only difference between them and other less-expensive models is asthetical with no change in sound or build-quality.

Are all or most of the students there Naamdhari?

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 Today what connects us is not Sikhi but nagar kirtans, akhand paths, turban tieing competitions kabaddi etc..  As you can see there is nothing of substance to hold us together.  These are mostly festivals, no one ones to teach Sikh doctrines.

Edited by SadSingh
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15 hours ago, GuestSingh said:

Their instruments are more expensive - one of my teachers says the only difference between them and other less-expensive models is asthetical with no change in sound or build-quality.

Are all or most of the students there Naamdhari?

oh is it.

 

they wanted around £200 from me about a decade ago, prices must have gone up.

 

why would naamdharis learn from them when they can learn from naamdhari ustads??

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On 16/04/2018 at 7:30 AM, Guest Bobbyblue18 said:

 

One day we were doing Langar Da Seva for Vasaikhi, I went with my father to the Sikh owned grocery supermarket. Explained to the nice chap we wish to buy a box of apples for the Gurdwara to Wand. He went to the back of the store and picked the best box he could find, "here uncle, take these, also take these box of oranges for free to give to the Gurdwara on our behalf". "No problem puttar, and thank you". Another time I went into a sikh owned book store to purchase a book for my grandmother who was in hospital for a while. I explained to "auntie" of the book store what I was doing. She said take this one it's about sikh women in history. It was priced at £12 and I passed her £12 and she said no, give me £10 and take my best wishes to your gran and hope she comes out soon. I said thank you auntie. Now both experiences gave me that a) I am part of a great community,  b) To these people it's important to generate goodwill   c) I'll return for sure in the future  d) As Sikhs we are duty bound to take of each other and lets show it.     

Omg thank you for making this topic. It lets me think and write abt alot of thoughts ive had over the years. And best of all this related to a sakhi i heard and it shoeed me the importance of it!!

First of all, the encounter with the musical instruments shop. I think the difference is between western and indian mentality. Indians like to negotiate, and have nepotism. Which is when u treat ur relatives/or ur communith better than or differently than other people. We in the west have been taught, negotiating is wrong as it shows one being greedy and cheap. And that nepotism/discrimination is wrong. That we all want to be treated equally. Like i would feel uncomfortable in a muslim shop if the muslims were treated perferentially.

Also you asked for a discount cuz the instrument didnt have enough accessories. That i think the shopkeepers assistant should have listened to. But because he is an assistant. Sometimes its not in his hand. His boss will get mad. Also its a sikh shop. All his customers are sikh so he cant give discounts to everybody.

One reason, things were better in ur days could be cuz sikhs were a minority and faced hardships. Which brings ppl together. 

The fruit shopkeeper, gave u a discount or free oranges. That is his dasvandh not yours. Like if he sells u something cheaper. That means hes gonna get some phal/reward. 

Tho when u told the book lady ur story, she gave u a discount. I think when u tell ppl ur story, they r more likely to connect with u and be kind. Instead of just asking for discounts. But still as a western born kid, i find it hard to give discounts unless i see that u cant afford something and u really need it. 

Like my dad he wants me to be a real estate agent and work for him. Selling his properties. But i dont want to work for him. He likes to cut corners, and not follow rules. He believes in nepotism, treating ppl differently. And i just cant do that. Living like that makes me stressed and on edge and it doesnt meah with my sikhi. I really admire our previous generation. They were able to make it through tough times by breaking laws and putting sikhi and moral values on hold. Im more of a wimp and cant do that. Like i dont think i could survive in poverty if it means an apartment complex that had smoking smells and suchamta issues. Or fake papers. Or any of the things our parents had to do. And how our parents knew every panjabi family. And invited them over. 

Now the sakhi: 

A sikh was going someplace and was told he should stop at this one shopkeeper sikhs house on the way. The traveler sikh lets call him makhan singh for clarity arrived at the shopkeepers shop. Lets call him Raam Singh. so Makhan singh introduced himself, raam singh made him confortable in the shop. He watched Raam Singh work.  A rich farmer came in. He asked for flour. Raam singh poured it for him. Handed it over. Farmer paid him and left. Raam singh counted the money. Realized he had too much. Called out to the farmer who was leaving. Farmer said keep it and kept walking. Raam Singh ran after him and paid him back. Makhan singh questioned him and he quoted the pangti about prayia hak. That says one must not take anothers earnings/rights. Then makhan singh decided to buy things for his journey. He asked for butter. Raam singh said 5 rupees. Makhan singh tried to get him to lower the price, but Raam singh would not budge. Makhan singh thought what a greedy, miserly person. And paid the 5 rupees. At end of the day, they went home. And Raam Singh said, please I want to be hospitable. Let me know anything you desire and I will do that seva. Makhan singh thought wat a hypocrit, he couldnt even lower one rupee for a fellow sikh and now he is acting all holy. To embarass him, makhan singh said, i would like to take a bath in warm bucket of ghee/butter. He laughed to himself that, butter is expensive this guy will start making excuses now. To his surprise Raam Singh returned with a full bucket of melted butter. And one of hot water. And handed Makhan singh a towel. Makhan singh was speechless. He said, r u crazy, butter is so expensive and u want me to waste it. Raam singh said anything for my gurus sikh. Makan singh called him out. That in the shop u woukdnt even give me 1 rupee discount. And here u r ready to waste 100 ruppes worth of butter. Raam singh said oh that was business. This is sikhi. Plus i dont take another hak nor relinquisg my hak. Hak means rights/earnings. Also i do my utmost best in my business and in sikhi. Then u were talking to me as the business man,  and i value and work hard for my business and my earnings so even 1 rupee i could not let slide. Now u r talking to.me as a sikh, and i value and work hard for sikhi, and even 100 rupees worth of butter is nothing for sikhi.

I never understood this sakhi before. I could not understand Raam singh prespective abt work before. Now i kinda do. Be excellent in all u do. Dont shortchange urself. Respect ur job which has given u the ability to support ur family. And once u have given ur best in one field. You can give the same best/hardworking self to sikhi. 

Ofc the names r made up in the sakhi. And i forgot the exact sequence of things and dialogue but the essence is there. I think this is one of bhai veer singhs saakhis or i heard it in katha..

 

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7 hours ago, ipledgeblue said:

oh is it.

 

they wanted around £200 from me about a decade ago, prices must have gone up.

 

why would naamdharis learn from them when they can learn from naamdhari ustads??

Don't believe the main teacher is one but others look naamdhari (turban style).

Not spoken or interacted with them myself but from various pictures/videos, they commercialise a lot (white hippies cult followings.)

Their models are around the double the price now - whether you can tell a difference from others or not is up to you to decide.

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5 hours ago, Not2Cool2Argue said:

The fruit shopkeeper, gave u a discount or free oranges. That is his dasvandh not yours. Like if he sells u something cheaper. That means hes gonna get some phal/reward. 

Exactly.

5 hours ago, Not2Cool2Argue said:

Ofc the names r made up in the sakhi. And i forgot the exact sequence of things and dialogue but the essence is there. I think this is one of bhai veer singhs saakhis or i heard it in katha..

Oh, so it's not a made-up saakhi? Even if it were, it would be good. It sounds vaguely like the saakhi of Bhai Banno.

I agree that it is unreasonable to demand discounts of shopkeepers because "it's for a religious purpose". They can't verify that. You're trading on your long beard to make the other guy think you're "religious". You're just setting it up for unscrupulous people with beards to come by and abuse it, which then gets found out, and then people lose faith in Sikhs and Sikhi.

On the other hand, it would be OK for a gurdwara to put out the call for construction materials, legal services, accounting services, medical services (free medical camps). Then people can verify it's for a religious purpose because they're giving directly to the gurdwara. And then sawmill owners can drop off wood at the gurdwara, marble showroom owners can drop off marble, etc. Or people in fields not in demand can buy the stuff (possibly at cost) and have it delivered to the gurdwara.

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Guest Bobbyblue18
On ‎4‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 1:46 PM, BhForce said:

Welcome to the forum. Why don't you create a free account to facilitate conversation?

--Have done.

I applaud your desire for Sikhs to stick together and do stuff for our Panth. But I think you are mistaken when you think the burden for that should be on shopkeepers or other service providers.

--I haven't the slightest idea where you got that from? There is no "burden". There is only recognising we are all brothers and sisters under Sikhi in all walks of life INCLUDING shopkeepers... HELLO.

I believe you are mistaken when you think it's not reasonable for musical instruments to be multiple times the price of the same product as in India. The price of a product is always less in the immediate vicinity of where it's produced.

Do you honestly think that anyone should be surprised that the price of bananas in our homeland of Punjab is multiple times the price in as in banana-producing states like Tamil Nadu?

-----Again <banned word filter activated> ? I didn't say it wasn't reasonable. I KNOW they will be less in India but of course I expect to pay more due to overheads etc. A relative paid £75 in India and this one is £300 here. That's a massive margin. There is profit and there is p**-take.

Not to mention the fact that shipping is not free, takes time (tying up capital), the shopkeeper has to face the risk of fraud by the shipper (or he has to bear the time and expense of going to India himself and dealing with the paperwork to export to England), and also the risk of breakage in shipping, plus pay customs while taking delivery.

Then he has to store the stuff until it's sold. Need I remind you that the parts of England where Sikh shops are located are quite dense, with commensurately expensive real estate. Warehousing inventory is not cheap.

I feel it was unfair of you not to be cognizant of these difficulties of running a business.

--Sorry I lost interest while the violins were playing. Hold on I'll have a whip round for the poor shopkeepers.

You're speaking of stuff of which you have no knowledge, bro. If you had the knowledge you could have just taught your child kirtan yourself.

--Er....yes I do. I have played similar instruments in my youth. I could teach him but why not get a "proper" teacher.

The fact is most music teachers have very particular views of instruments, practice methods, and a lot of other stuff. (And I'm talking about music teachers in general, including Indians, Englishmen, Americans, etc.) There is also a wide variety in the structure and manufacture of instruments.

--It's the player not the instrument. Any music teacher worth his salt would encourage his pupil on whatever resource would be available to him/her. I seriously doubt there is much difference between £300 and £400 in the hardware playing it wise.

You call it arrogance, somebody else could call it experience. Not only that, but they could also call your view ignorance.

--Ignorance masked as common sense? Again, I seriously doubt this £300 is in no way inferior to the £400 being pushed.

And, again, it is unwarranted to call it "greed". It is quite possible that from his perspective, the music teacher was doing you a favor by not forcing you go have to go to India just to buy an instrument.

--Nobody said going to India to get one. We could just about afford to be ripped off here at £300 and not £400. I am always sceptical when somebody gains financially and is doing a "favour".

Those are all good values. But here's another value you're overlooking:

Respect for one's teacher (ustad). In our culture, we respect our teachers immensely.

If you don't like your ustad, you should have investigated and chosen another one.

--Oh dear. I didn't say I didn't like the ustad. Nor did I say he was a bad teacher. I said his attitude towards this issue was disappointing. Please read before posting. My son and I both have respect for this ustad thank you very much.

Also, please don't say the ustad himself is only a kid. I've seen kids under 18 who are ustad-level, because they've been at it for years, and they have acquired knowledge of Raags.

--Frankly, nobody is offended here. I am double the Ustad's age and he calls me uncle. Quit being a precious d***. Your bordering on restricting freedom of expression ala the muzzies.

That's great that he did so, but I would caution that he is under no obligation to do so.

--Oh my God, you really are a plank. We never asked for a discount for the apples in the first place! He gave us the best ones in the store (at full price no probs!) and also oranges on his behalf. WE also out of mutual respect took his oranges on their behalf. Sikhs do stuff for each other.

You want to be able to go up to a shopkeeper, ask for a discount for religious purposes, and get it. I would rather recommend that everybody pay full price (normal price), and then when you make your offering at the Gurdwara, you get the fruit of having donated.

--Get your head out of your ***. I don't expect any discount in any shop at any time. What I do expect is a bit of recognition between the Sikh community in all areas. ANY kind of recognition. I got zilch and I didn't expect it, least of all from a Sikh shop.

By doing it the other way, you put the burden on the shopkeeper, and also allow freeloaders to get discounts by lying about donating to the Gurdwara. Why should shopkeepers in our community bear the entire burden? Why shouldn't lawyers, accountants, taxi-drivers, etc. pay full price for goods, and donate them?

--You must love the sound of your own voice. Righteous indignation on behalf of the shopkeeper, let's call your movie Char Sahibzade 4. Since where did I say I expect Shopkeepers to practically donate their livelihoods?

Then, with the profit that shopkeepers earn, they can make an offering of their dasvandh.

-Frankly, in another age, I'd have expected a "communal" atmosphere whilst visiting this particular establishment, having paid well over the odds and then getting some form of encouragement or nominal accessories thrown in. My disappointment lies in the lack of any kind of spirit of friendship or recognition that we were Sikhs also. I would have said to all my family and friends, that's a really nice place and Mr X is a happy chappie that will take care of your musical needs. I need further instruments for my other children but wont be going back there.  
--As for Ustad, I'd have expected him to have offered the £400 instrument and when we politely said no, to leave it there.

 

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