Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lesson 30: Welcome to the rat race

Hello Readers,
Those who are there, those who are not. Sab chalta hai?
Will make this sweet: Welcome back. As with all good intentions, hope this carries on without too many breaks. First post after the first silence has been written by our old mate Sahasra Shatru, Hyderabad.Meanwhile, Delhi felt tremors a week back. Area of origin, near abouts the Commonwealth Games 2010 Village site. And the audacious silence continues…

WHERE DID YOU WANT TO GO?
- Sahasra Shatru
My ex-comrades-in-arms have an interesting approach to life now... Once they delved deeper into the business of making money and discovered the beauty of life deliver goods at the terms they wanted. These were the same guys who had brainstormed over a cup of iced tea or a glass of rum. They had expressed dismay at state of things and had relate stories of their conquests over even the 'little' injustices they witnessed whether at work, while commuting, near their townships, in government offic and with neighborhood morons. These were the guys who had sparks in their eyes that could have set a nation afire. They had lived for ideas and fought for them. These were the same people who once, would have jumped at the idea of any organization that tried for any change.

Then they branched out to their various professions. They started facing bigger troubles, perhaps tried to fight them. Some alone and some with allies, groups or organizations. Suddenly, they stayed quiet when 'such' topics were discussed. Life's 'sober phase' had dawned upon them.
“Life is not a morning walk, sir, it is a race” – they now quote enthusiastically from the movie Metro, that they could watch having commuted by their second car and spent Rs 150 per head in a multiplex, and not feel the pinch on the pocket. “You have to stop looking microscopically, which magnifies trifle things but ignores the big picture”. “Grow up”. They do not call me to attend parties any more for fear of my inadvertently creeping conversations on “issues”.

The more philosophical of the crop goes on saying that it is only that we have to grow so powerful that these things cannot touch us. Have so much money that neither police, nor infrastructure or the lack of it, nor politicians or economic policies can affect our scheme of things. Gain contacts, spend money, become powerful, and you don’t have to live in India even as you live in the “Geographical India”. Pay for the media or police or municipal officials just
like you pay for event managers of birthday parties, and watch the drama unfold, where you are the scriptwriter. Enjoy the fruits of your labor instead of trying to harvest a sterile crop. And then, when you have ensconced yourself comfortably in seats of power, money, fame, and influence, and if you find time, can unravel your grand schemes of “social work” and watch things materialize.You wont have to taste frustration then, as you do now with every battle.

As I heard “social work” in that context, I felt dizzy, my head spinning, felt sick, almost threw up. It is only much later that the amusement dawned on me of why such fine examples of humankind in our “Jamboodweepam”; inheritors of the great civilization that taught the world mathematics, logic, yoga, and philosophy have been reduced to shrewd businessmen, successful in personal endeavors yet mere mute spectators to injustices and gross corruption. The arguments were flawless, “If you have a private aircraft, your schedules are not contingent on airline delays”. The brilliance of the arguments and the soundness of the logic somewhere led me through the alleys of baffling awe to the realization of the pregnant evil. It is not wrong to be callously selfish, and neither is it necessary to be involved in every issue that affects “you” as a category. It is the resources that you can realize for yourself to create personal immunity that matters in a life – so short, and so painful otherwise. It is power to do things that matter to you that you should be after, and then, probably, can try to engage in activities such as are perceived to be social in nature.

I saw the big picture like Keanu Reeves was enlightened about the agents and the architecture of the world. There is the catch 22 situation that will make you so firmly interwoven in the filth of convenient existence by then that you wouldn’t care much and then, some times, in a charged emotional situation when you come out of cinema theaters, that buried bug of conscience springs up, bringing you to tears if you are a sensitive person or a sudden flow of adrenaline and you will go out clapping your hands and feeling so good for having watched that film that espouses such wonderful ideas woven in a beautiful narrative construct – that the collective psychodynamic construct suddenly feels exhilarating patriotism - and you can go home, sit relaxed in designer couches washing down the dinner with nice premium brandy in crystal ware, as you watch late night news while the remote plays god with the set, jumping portals from entertainment to sensational stings, titillating you for the sexual content in it, and you long for more. You stretch on the bed, and probably do not want to have sex – with all that stress of handling business, people, money, busy schedules, frequent flying, credit cards and the next most popular car, you
probably have developed erectile dysfunction, or loss of libido.

Anyways, you can now afford 18-year-old ‘prostitutes’ (my apologies for using that word – because ‘you’ do not think they are ‘prostitutes’, but upper middle class college girls looking for the little extra bit of luxury and a good time). Your wife has sagging skin, like the contours on the political landscape of youth wings of parties of regional and national character, despite her frequent visits to the spa, parlor, and the surgery that you could so easily afford for the tucks. You get up in the morning and get charged with life. Your car is so beautifully equipped with perfumed conditioning and shocks that the drainage that overflows, mixed like colors on Vincent Van Gogh’s palate with the rainwater being splashed on walls, pedestrians, and children just
adds a pleasant sound of squish, intermittently enhancing the RJ’s garrulous endeavors on some channel named after some spice. And the cycle follows.

‘You’ will probably still socialize with ‘me’ (the category), and probably sympathize with me, what with the hangover of that film and all and say, we could do something. And there are tax exemptions for donating to charitable organizations, which have the likes of people at the steering wheel who say, “Dear Sir, the institution is charitable, not the people who run it”. You need power to do some things, and when you have gained it, you need to do other things to
preserve it. You will need to protect your image, ensure the perpetuation of influence and the continuation of resource channels. You are that Pig of the Animal Farm that started out to be some thing else. You are the PIG that has lost its conscience and concept for want of things that could be achieved even otherwise, without having to eat shit. You began somewhere, and somewhere on the path, you found the shortcut strewn with flowers more colorful and the terrain less demanding. You have reached a destination alright, but is it where you wanted to go?

PS: Initially, I considered editing the piece - as is custom - I did edit a bit. Let it be then, for there were couple of things I wanted to add... decided to state my views here. Sometimes, power and wealth breed a strange mistrust around them... the more you have it, the more people expect you to misuse it and thereby assume that you MUST be using it. It's perhaps idealistic (or stupid) to think that those in power or with wealth do not want to help out/do their bit/as you like it; or that they would "only if" they "found" the time. Perhaps, who knows? There are those with the power and money who do their bit and there are those who don't. Power by itself perhaps does have a certain bit of corruption in it's nature; more to do with what it puts you through than any other sinister connotation. Hmm. I would want power. Yes, would like to help WITH the power than without it. Each to his/her own? -- JB

2 comments:

Care Bear said...

Reading through this post what came to my mind is a Citizen Party...yea a political party.Power at the right hands.Even if the baggage comes with a bit or more of corruption,there has to be a way to lessen it,and work more towards public welfare rather than self.

Too much thoughts....I guess.

Nicely written, Sahasra Shatru.

Crimson Feet said...

Point 1 - Probably, those with power also do things, but it doesnt go well with the catchy line "power corrupts" and hence doesnt come to our notice or doesnt get talked about.

Point 2 - If "they" (the category) were ever serious about doing something good for "everyone" (all categories), then they would never reach a point of dilemma. They are possibly just defending their internal complexes while giving such seemingly logical arguments. Lets just say they are on a different path.

Our path is about spreading goodness and doing our own bit to set things 'right', so that we ourselves may sleep peacefully at night (with a strong libido if I may add).
If they are getting to sleep peacefully too, I am sure they must be doing something right somewhere.