I put a lot of limits on myself. When I spend a whole week doing activities beyond my reach and capacity, I watch myself and feel surprised. Then, I tell myself to slow down. How can I do so much? When I live unbounded for some periods, I feel that I have had enough and must now step back into that circle I created for myself and I go back in there. When I have received too much adulation, I don a self-effacing garb and slowly recede into the background. So, when I have been showered with a lot of love, do I look around and wonder if I deserve it? No. Of late, that is something I don’t question. It has taken me some time and the company of N to accept whatever love comes my way. Well, I deserve it.
So, about those other limits I put on myself. This week has been particularly crazy for want of a better word, and I am yet to place my feelings in a category that I understand. Am I happy about where I am or would I rather be elsewhere? N has formed her opinion about where we are, like always. And I have not, like always too. I told her yesterday afternoon, on an invaded lunch, that I am yet to figure out how I feel. That’s okay, right?
However, I think I came to a conclusion yesterday morning when the auto-wallah left me in the middle of the highway and expected me to cross it and jump over the divider to get to my destination on the opposite side. The first time I was left like that, I got very angry and declared that this world was full of assholes. However, yesterday I just decided what I had been giving so much leeway and benefit of doubt – I don’t like India. It’s not the “alleged” great country that all Indians believe it is. Its culture is not its redeeming grace, but the very reason for all its troubles. In short, India is a country that is still eons away from being a “cultural melange of wonderful people”. This is the point when I can spend time writing one thousand words about how we lack responsibility, how our manners are non-existent, how we don’t want to move ahead, and how we’re a sexist lot. Of course, every general rule has exceptions. But we’re general India.
The work that I do for a living can be summarized in the following statement. “Everything has two states: as-is and to-be. We help people bridge that gap between as-is and to-be.” It took me two years to understand that simple statement and a whole lot of self-berating too. The problem with India is that it has no idea about either of its states of being – India does not know what its current state is and where it wants to be. Worse of all, India doesn’t know how to bridge that gap. By 2020, India will have the largest youngest population in the world. That is to say that by 2020, the number of people under the age of 30 is going to be the most in the world. Consequently, we’re going to be a market for a lot of industries and hold the power to change a host of things. The year 2020 is 6 years away. Look back at how you spent your last six years – in a wink – that’s how soon we’ll be at 2020. Where is the plan to nurture that talent pool? I don’t know. I could bet that all other countries know this statistic and probably Modi knows too. The question is what are Indians doing about it? My wild guess is – nothing.
I spend a lot of time with a very old man who jokes with me and keeps saying, “Don’t ask me to spell, I am an Engineer. I build things.” “Categorising courses is not my job, I am an Engineer. I build things.” I have very conveniently hidden from him the fact that I am an Engineer too. He thinks I am a Management graduate, and that I will advise people about what SMART objectives are. Then, he gives me perspective of what objectives shouldn’t be – DUMB – Demotivating, Useless, Meaningless, and Baseless. He held up four fingers to tell me so. I nodded, and went back wondering how much of our country’s machinery is designed smartly. Then, I look at my juniors clamouring to do MBA without a shred of an idea of what the course is about. In the Indian scheme of things, it means nothing. And it’s not their fault at all. Just like my Engineering degree meant nothing, and I have to hide it from a real Engineer who talks to me about how he’s designed a network that we’re all going to use someday.
(I don’t know how much trouble I can get into for writing that paragraph.)
I find it hard to decide how I feel about where I am (unlike N) is because I feel sandwiched between what-was and what-is. I’ve been there – I’ve been a part of the world that was irresponsible, self-destructive and delusional about its altruism. I’ve been a part of a world that is accountable, self-improving, and aware of what it deserves. And that is why the empathizer in me has a tough call to make.
I keep writing about how we lack accountability as a nation and why each one of us should forget about the government and do things ourselves. Most people call me an idealist. They say I speak of fairy tales. I don’t. Everyone who says so to me should know this – the best place to find a helping hand, is at the end of your own arm.
Not only hand, you also require a spine, and the shedding of your ego which is so highly warped in a decaying culture.
India, I don’t like you because you don’t like yourself.