The keeping of records is a fascinating issue in India. Other than the national corporations, many hotels, apartment complexes and banks even still keep records in big old fashioned ledgers. With power often iffy, no computer can go down and lose the records. And it’s how it has always been done.
I am astounded by the number of sign in books in our apartment complex and those of other complexes. Sign in the little books to go to the gym, to use the pool, to welcome visitors. And I am astounded by the paper trail at grocery stores. Get a tally of the bill from one person, pay another person, and then a third person at the door checks the receipt and stamps it.
While such record keeping seems ubiquitous in what seems like silly situations to me, we have been equally astounded by the lack of data bases and record keeping where it matters. For example, most book stores in India, even huge multi-level bookstores often do not have a method for keeping track of inventory. Books are not shelved based on title or author. Sometimes they are shelved by publisher. Sometimes by subject. Sometimes willy nilly.
Even at the big and fancy Mantri Mall this week, my mom went to a very large book store to find if they have books by Amit Chowdry, a famous intellectual in India. Big shot. Big deal. The book store pulled up Amazon.
My mother asked, “How do you know if you have the book if you look it up on Amazon?”
Clerk: “The book might be shelved by title.”
My mom goes to the section and notices that they aren’t shelved by title at all. She returns to the clerk and asks, “How are the books ordered if they aren’t ordered by title.”
Clerk: “It is what it is madam.”
Even more surprisingly than the book store, my parents went to the Museum of Modern art.
None of the personnel knew what paintings were located in the museum. When asking to speak to a more senior person, the man admitted that the museum does not have a database or catalog. Even more surprisingly, though, was that they could not find anyone who knew where the painting by Tagore was located. Tagore is one of the most famous authors/poets in India history. My parents finally found the painting tucked away on the sixth floor.
We took the kids to the Art Museum in our last days in Bangalore. The kids were not very enthused about the visit until I lucked out with a game that kept them happy. In each room of art, we all had to choose our favorite and then we had to guess the favorite’s of everyone else. It slowed them down, caused them to consider the pieces carefully, and they had a blast. I will definitely remember that trick for Paris.
The one place where records are watched very closely is in the cricket league which has caught India by storm. My dad watches a match every night. Carson is obsessed as well. He wears his red Bangalore Royal Challengers cap all around town. Below are some of the team logos at the hotel bar in Hospet. Carson insisted on watching the matches on the big screen in the bar, much to the concern of the wait staff at the hotel!