As youngsters of about ten or eleven years, there were many avid collectors of postcards in my school. Some showed off the treasure of Madhuri Dixit’s postcards while others of Salman Khan or Akshay Kumar.  My hostel had two invisible poles for everything. One pole, fans of Madhuri Dixit, the other, fans of Sri Devi;  fans of Amir Khan versus fans of Shahrukh Khan; fans of Sachin Tendulkar versus fans of Saurav Ganguly;  fans of English teacher versus fans of Maths teacher;  the list was endless. Nobody cared about those who did not fall into the extremes. Most of the boarders stood for somebody they liked, no matter how stupid it might seem today.

It was mostly at night or on Sundays while watching programmes on hostel warden’s television that a silly statement made by one group against the cynosure of other group’s eye created heated argumentative sessions. The wise ones let us be. Some smirked. They preferred not to indulge in any task that went against their principle of being studious or ‘of some standard’ all the time.

If a Sri Devi fan commented negatively against Madhuri, some fan of Madhuri used to start with point wise negative dissection of Sri Devi and the group joined. The result often was elongation and deviation from the main topic and led to a ‘katti’ or crossing of little finger with the opponent’s which meant swearing that they would not talk to each other. Most of time, the warring camps pacified with a smile within two days after ‘katti’or at the maximum, a week.

I am nostalgic all of a sudden. Life transforms so quickly.

One has everything at disposal today except time.  I am sure even epic hero like Bhishma Pitamah would find the 21st century level of stress more piercing than the arrows he bore and lay upon.  After fighting a hard battle during the day, the warriors at least had time to relax after sun set and have their wounds nursed. Today, demands are 24X7 and it’s scary to keep on running to remain in the same place which brings me to the rhetorical question who can afford to do so when prices of all essentials are sky rocketing and at an all time high resulting in even basic items not being taken for granted any longer!

‘Rotis’ /rice, onion and chilly- I had often observed rickshaw pullers and laborers, while crossing roads, having these for lunch. Now I shudder to think about their list of options. Call it the power of rich getting richer and the poor, poorer, I have a simple question to ask- what will become of the poor and their families in future if this trend continues? On the one hand, there are scams involving crores and crores of rupees being unearthed day after day; on the other, a vast section of the population does not even have two zeroes to manage the living.

Survival of the fittest, huh? Only a section of the society has taken a patent to fall under the ‘fittest’ category. The rest are to be ignored. Stock markets can go crazy and reach 21000 mark one year, thanks to some leading companies, and statistics go brouhaha over progress of India that they call the new India.  Is a bullish stock market driven by few strong organizations the indicator of an average Indian’s standard? Like I said earlier, some wise ones choose to sit in their drawing rooms and smirk. They are of a high standard. This group knows the way up and manages well so assumes it has full right to be snobbish about it. It can argue that climbing greater heights is huge adrenaline stuff and not everyone has the will or stamina for it. The other group can continue to fight over silly things and pay the price for working hard but not smart or simply choose to accept its fate and not be chic enough to flourish.

Two extremes again. This time, ‘katti’ will lead to nowhere because the compartments are divided and each has been allocated a space within the social spectrum. It’s all about emphasis on perpetual zest or eternal rest. Somewhere in between falls the middle class that is neither poor nor affluent. Nobody will care about it. And why?  Because it does not fall into extremes. This cluster has to go on with a smile struggling to maintain a decent present working towards an inflation proof home budget tomorrow. Only the intent of polarization has transformed. The spirit remains.


18 responses »

  1. Dear Sonal,

    Very nicely you have traversed from the trivial to the more important issues in life. Yes, the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.
    Most of us are just not willing to walk that extra mile, just either brag or complain. No wonder improvement is delayed.

    Good blog.

  2. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Sonal, an unexpectedly serious write spanning decades. A childhood filled with carefree me-time debating over mundane, even silly issues to a stressful adulthood fighting inflation and aftermaths of poor or no action by the Government, you have really spanned an era frought with hardships, dilemmas and tensions so well. The bi-polarization of child hood days has now shifted to more imminent issues of survival which rakes up nagging questions like what is survival. Just to make both ends meet or a comfortable, materially as well as intellectually satisfying living. And do we really have a “katti” alternative to the inaction/mismanagement by the Government? Too many complex points to ponder upon!

    But as Omji rightly and philosophically points out that civilizations have always had a cyclic order and a synthesis germinates from the friction between thesis and anti-thesis i.e what is and what should be, though this should not anaesthetize us to a laidback role of a spectator. Option in the hands of the middle class is like the ever-depleting resources struggling to be conserved. In this whole rigmarole, we have somewhere missed out the fun of purposeless child hood “bickerings” which also had its fun moments and can perhaps de-stress (but not divert) us in moments of despair.

    Kudos for this thought provoking and arguement-inciting blog!

    • Sonal Shree says:

      Dear Geeta, thanks for your appreciation and thanks also for reading each line and coming back with your views. You are right about missing the fun of ‘purposeless childhood bickerings’.
      As far as middle class is concerned, take for instance the recent RBI hikes in repo rate and reverse repo rates. Interest rates will rise again which obviously would mean passing the cost to borrowers. Home loans, auto loans- everything. Needless to say, it is the salaried class that suffers the most. Who wouldn’t be tensed under such circumstances?
      The opposition is busy proving its patriotism by deciding to hoist the flag on Lal Chowk; the ruling coalition has proved good for nothing in containing rising prices or scams. A joke for our political representatives

      (sorry politicians)

      USA: Our dogs can play football
      Japan: Our fish can dance
      China: Our elephants can ride bicycles
      India:Our donkeys can rule the country 😉

  3. deepika says:

    Hmmmm! I’m thinking over the issue. What to say? These are the harsh realities of life. Ek traaf Ambani ka multistoryed bangla to doosri taraf bichane ke liye road and to cover there is sky.

  4. vimala ramu says:

    An impassioned plea against the wide gap between rich and poor. But you must agree that the standard of the very poor also has undergone a change. I now see maid servants, who started with ‘transistor ‘radios now have Frig’, grinding machine, pressure cookers,color TVs etc and their children are getting to be graduates.
    BTW, Onion prices have crashed down. As Om says it is all cyclical.

    • Sonal Shree says:

      Yes, I do agree with you. There are so many jokes about the standard of the poor (for instance,the joke on Facebook about the maid updating her status to WILL NOT BE COMING FOR TWO DAYS, GOING HOME)
      I feel the standard of maids have improved. Would not include some of them in my list. 🙂
      Good that onion prices are decreasing.

  5. Shernaz says:

    You have portrayed a harsh reality of society Sonal. But the wheel of fortune turns and we with it. Nothing stays the same and if we remembered that, there would be less insensitivity and gloating, less jealosy and self-pity too. Very thoughtful blog.

    • Sonal Shree says:

      Shernaz, you are so right. Problem is with those who get richer and then forget their grass roots. How many people are sensitive and empathetic? Very few.
      Thanks for being here.

  6. beyniaz says:

    Very nice blog, Sneha.

  7. Sonal,
    You are right when you say that the rich poor divide is getting bigger. It is a matter of great concern. But, as market economies go, what goes up must come down – the eternal cycle of life will continue to ensure that those who are rich today, are poor tomorrow, and that those who are poor, rich tomorrow. Whether we accept this theory or not, if each one of us, looks back on his or her ancestors, he/she will find that their ancestors have either been very rich, or very poor, in various generations. It is very very rare to find people (unless of course, one belongs to some kind of ROYAL family) consistently rich or consistently poor, over a period of, say, 1000 years.

    • Sonal Shree says:

      Dear Om ji,

      You are right. At the same time, I’m afraid that most theories are not practical else how do we explain the BPL section of society versus the Ambanis, for instance. Each year government comes up with one scheme or the other for the upliftment of the BPL section and yet results aren’t satisfying at all (here, I do not trust government statistics). In the severest of winter, people are forced to sleep under the open sky and who cares if some of them die!

      Its equally true that being consistently rich or poor over such a long perios of say 1000 years is rare but not impossible.

      On the other extreme, as far as the royal families are concerned, once there was a news item about a royal family’s descendents who are impoverished and penniless now. Such people are parasites who fully fit into the adage
      Ajgar kare na chakari, panchi kare na kaam
      Daas maluka kah gaye, sabke daate raam.

      I feel that the following factors are responsible for this-
      1. acceptance of fate
      2. corruption
      3. deviance of our economy towards capitalistic mode

      There are other factors too which can be added to this list.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. Sneha says:

    A sensitive piece by my fav writer. Kudos Sonal, for this!

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