soul of the urban indian

Long Before I went to school and learnt about glorious indian history, or read about the Buddha, Mahatma or vedic wisdom, I learnt from an untutored woman, my granny, the essence of morality. Of being good, moral and to conduct myself with self esteem. The rules were simple. I had to respect what I had been given and be nice to people around. Toys had to be shared with my sister and a smile and hello were mandatory to the milkman. If the kid next door was playing on the slide in the neighbourhood park, I had to wait till he finished. The cycle-rickshaw wallah had to be wished 'good morning uncle' with a smile on the way to school, and then it was the peon at the school gates. The fellow human being had to be respected.

Food had to be respected too. Plates had to licked clean, because there were people going hungry elsewhere. Gifts had to be earned. A kind act was always returned with a kinder one. It was what being a 'good boy' was all about. The limits were defined and could not be questioned. There was no room for examining them, dissecting them or even to test their borders. Across the concrete wall, off limits, lay the 'bad boy' image, and that meant punishment. No hugs or kisses from ma or bapa, no chocolates and certainly no gifts. Silence at the dinner table. Nobody would talk to the sinner. The lack of gifts and chocolates would be bearable to a point, but the thought of being unloved or unwanted was too much to take. In school I learnt history, Ashoka's amazing conversion and Puru's glory in defeat. Gandhi's other cheek and Bose's bravado and Mangal Pandey's passion. They were good people, examples of the very things that granny had taught me as a kid. And through it came a realization that I had a responsibility to my country, that of being good. It was my duty and my contribution. It was my pride. Only by trying to be the best that I can be, I could fulfill the promise that came with being an Indian. I was glad I was born here. India was my country and I was proud of it. I would not trade it for the world.

Now I am all grown up into a rational adult. I work with big corporates who pay me well. I honk incessantly on the roads, bully smaller verhicles, swear at them using the filthiest of words with the vilest of tempers, if they try to push their way through. I push too, but thats alright. I will take the advantage if I can. I dont mind causing inconveninence to others if I have to do so in order to get ahead. And I am not in the habit of saying sorry. All that ended a long time back. It was a false pride over a nation of rude, violent animals struggling to get by. I live in the present, and I do what I have to, to exist. Being good does not work anymore, blaming the system does. The system put a traffic light. I jump it. I even start moving before I get the amber lights. The rules say that I need to stay in my lane and put on my blinkers if I want to change, but I dont. I just barge in and barge out. The system put a 'No Parking' sign, but I dont heed that. Hey, sab chalta hai, this is India. I crib about general cleanliness, and still throw my cigarette butt ends around. I chew paan masala and spit on the road. I scream at pedestrians crossing streets and scream at cars when I am walking. I speed like a mad dog when I get an empty stretch, and I hit and run if someone comes in my way. I scream at the traffic cops calling them inefficient, but am always on the lookout to sneak out when he isnt looking. The system says 'Q please', but I dont queue up. Instead, I go and ask the guy at the top of the line to buy me some tickets, or sometimes just try to shamelessly stand at the top of the queue seemingly oblivious of the others waiting in line.

Are , yahan koi kuch nahin bolta, India hai bhai. You can insult anyone's intelligence. Sab chalta hai. Yeh system hi aisa hai yaar. India mein asia hi hota hai. Hey, this is the way we are, bas aise hi hain hum. Kya karein, India always moves in slow motion. We have lots of other problems to take care of. Cant change it man, just got to endure it. But we are a proud lot. We have a glorious history. Aur waise bhi, so many things are looking up, look at IT industry man….

Aaj kal bahut tough ho gaya hai yaar, Now I want to leave. I want to settle down abroad.

Looks like the only thing of importance that the Great Indian Nation gave me was my passport. The other unimportant things that have been written in history books are for dinner table conversations, needless, thoughtless banters. I will tell my kids to read them anyway, might help them score good grades in examinations. India sucks.

Hell no, I do. I suck. And I have sucked out the 'good' from my country. My granny is dead and my parents are old anyways. Who would know !!

2 Comments

  1. Nice and humourous post. Yes, in South Asia, one thing so good is to get some moral lessons from our elders. I do not know if it happens in other parts of the world too- like not wasting any food for the sake of other people who are starving.

  2. A very well written piece with touch of gentle humour. But I don’t think things have changed so much that you need to remain as ‘unsavory’ as you pretend to be in the public places, all the time. Good people still win.

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