Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Life Has Value

Over 1 billion people.

I want to know what we are made of. I don't understand how we function. How do we stay together? How are so many of us staying in this same place, quite easily too small for 1/6th of the world?

These aren't philosophical questions. It is just about rationality. Rationality does not seem to apply to this at all.

How do we stay together? So many religions, so many different beliefs - cutting and thrusting at each other every day.

How do we meet each others' eyes every day, at work, at school, on the roads? So many stereo-typings, so much bias against each other - jokes, declarations, proclamations aur yeh toh aise hi hain.

I'm very curious about India and how it lives with itself.

Or, forget that for now. I'm very curious about how we, as Indians, manage to live with our country.

No right thinking, educated man sincerely believes in any political party. They cheat us - all of them. Each and every one. There are hundreds of them - sprouting up out of bushes and jails and gangs. Not educated, although probably a criminal. We know it. None of these politicians, these statesmen, these MPs or these MLAs are going to clean the crime. No one is going to reduce corruption. No one is going to clean the streets. Nobody wants to educate us. Then we'd all know more than them, and that's a problem.

Except, we already do. Enough of us at least. But still, we vote. For one party or another. People bother to listen to speeches, they bother to cheer, they bother to analyse with the sincerest scrutiny where the lesser of the evils lies. Who is less likely to cheat us less than the others, given half a chance of doing so? Who would probably maybe not totally ignore every single thing he is saying right now, even though he said the same 4 years ago, and opposed it for the last 4 in opposition?

So, how do we not split at the seams? Why don't we scream in this horror of hypocrisy? I mean, come on people! This isn't a joking matter! This isn't cheating at cards or in your history exam! This is cheating with one billion people, over and over again, the same tricks and the same bluff. They don't bother to even ask. They just take it all. I am very curious to understand how we still exist.

There is a rat-race in the name of success. The bright youths, bright as earnest young bulbs, children only to the age of 15. Then it's time. The world's responsibilities are plunged on our shoulders. Think about your future. Think about what you are going to do. Think about your job and your position and your salary and your degree from that university. But wait! Not that way! Do not think of it as a dream! Do not think of it with a smile! You fool! This is serious business! Everything is! Stop smiling about your future! Drop that cricket bat, bundle away the tennis racquet. Enough child's play. Come, be a man/be a woman. Stop laughing and study.

Where were we? Yes, engineer or doctor forms please. No, nothing else. Of course not. What ever should we think for? Your whole life's ahead of you, so don't start living it just yet. Let us put it on hold while you open that book with the big equations. Feed it in. Stop dreaming!

Uncle ke saamne bolo, beta. Kya karogi bade ho ke?

I want to be an engineer. Or a doctor. I am studying for both.

Good boy. Now dance a little jig and go back into that dark room lit by the table lamp. We shall discuss your options and decisions. Of course you can have another sweet. There you go. We always have your best interests at hand.

How do we still do this to ourselves? How do we not grow up, in the way we were supposed to? When do we take control of our life the way we want to? How can you stand a dictatorship, a rule, a given path, an obvious route? There is no such thing!

You won't be successful until you pass out of IIT? Give me a break! You're trying to tell me that the alumnus of the IITs are the only successful people in India? Or the IIT-IIM package, I forget. A formula makes a man. You are where you come from. You will be only what sports you gave up as a teenager. Wealth is directly proportional to listening to others.


How do we stay with all this in our heads? When did we shut our minds and just accept the stories? We know that nobody successful ever did that! So why don't we idolise them? Why idolise the guy with the 25 lakh placement, over the man whose company hired him?

Selective memory. Deployed in the most important decision of a person's life. His life. The decision left to the majority. Since when is the majority right? Show me a person who says success comes from following the herd. If he's an Indian, he will follow that up with a rote passage on doing what elders tell you to do and not messing up your life.

Long hair, loud music, thinking different. Stop it now! Grow up. Real life has nothing to do with you or how you want to be. Be like us, because we are all...what?

It doesn't really matter. Nothing really matters. Anyone can see.

I'm very curious about how we still think, how we still act, how we still are, despite all of this. Despite the pollution, despite the politics, despite the pressure, despite the 'ground reality of Indian life'.

How do we, the youth, still live? It amazes me.

We sit at CCD, in blue jeans, yellow shoes and a brown coffee mug. We loiter in campus, sleepy in the middle of the day, throwing garbage just 10 feet from a bin. We muse over love and romance, watching that hideous Shah Rukh Khan with wide eyes, then marry a spouse pre-selected. We can read about the hot sunny days of Ayemenem. We can quote from Harry Potter.

We can listen to people telling us the way to live, because that's how it has been done for years now. And tradition must not be let go of, at any cost. Seriously, any cost.

Because if we lose tradition, we lose everything.

I think so too. If we lose our tradition, we will lose everything. The simple fact here being that we have nothing else.

We hate our neighbours, because they are from that part of the country where people are loud and boisterous. From that part of the country where people eat strange things and dress all alike. From that part of the country we haven't been to and every one looks just alike. From that part of the country where the language sounds just nonsense and the music from their living room is unbearable. From that part of the country where they only eat sweets and talk shop. We hate other people. So we think of us as separate entities.

We hate our politicians, because they rob from us. They cheat and steal and make no claims otherwise. The tax collector will take a bribe. The passport office will not work without more money. The local municipal does not exist. The police are scarier than the thieves. And the politicans won't do anything about it, because the politican is the mightiest serpent of them all. So we're scared. Unless we can sit on the serpent a while, and take a trip around the office. Let's not pay tax if we know the commissioner. Let's not pay the rent, if we know the policeman. Let's not stay together, in case the others want in on our fortunes too. Especially that man from that state, living in 3B. Those [North/South] Indians, I tell you!

So we stay away from each other.

How will it ever go away? The stupid rat race for a job, for the exact job that the boy in the newspaper with no social skills got himself. The giant, humongous monstrous corruption (unless we can get away with it ourselves) leeching off us all the time. The evil causing war and devastation in so many parts of the world. The stupid, unaccountable bureaucracy which cannot protect us from bombs and mad terrorism.

None of it will go away. No one can do anything.

I'm very curious to understand why we must all think this way. That we are alone in all of this. That only I suffer and only he suffers and only all of them suffer? No, you idiot. We suffer. Use the right word. We.

That is a collective noun. A. Collective. Noun. More than a billion people saying the wrong words every single morning of their lives.

Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see.

We are in this together. Learn that word, we. And we can get out of it too. All of us. Stop scurrying for cover.

We are not alone. We can all stand. We can all fight against all of this.

Yet we are all the fools, trying to live just one day longer. Just one day more, and I can finish the EMI on the TV, on the new car. Just one day more and I can also afford the new apartment complex. Then we won't have to complain about the water supply. It won't be our problem. Just one day more.

Let me just survive. That is enough for us all.

I'm still curious. Can anyone explain how 1 billion people continue to think like this?


Shuchi Kalra said...

You are bang on spot with this one...I loved this post coz I too feel very strongly about everything that you mentioned here. Keep the good stuff rolling!

Vaudevillian said...

happens only in india.

super post!

Confused n Baffled said...

@shuchi: will do. the rolling begins now. welcome too, by the way. find yourself a cushion. or a couch. egor will fetch the drinks.

@vaudevillian: ditto for you.

and yes, that is exactly what makes me so curious about us. how does this work here??

Princess Stefania said...

Off with their heads. Lets reinstate the kings and queens.
(I have no answers. I wish I did. I'm just as... curious).