Thursday, July 14, 2011

Race to the edge

The Indian, middle class, social fabric has become drastically porous in the recent years. It is as though the entire country went to sleep one night in kurta pyjama and rose the next morning wearing nothing but body paint. What used to be social censure, all of a sudden transformed into social resignation or is it acceptance, I am not sure which word works best here. The word ‘taboo’ most certainly became the vanishing tail-light of yesteryear’s wagon; the neighbours overnight forgot the art of batting their eyelids and ‘personal happiness’ came to be increasingly accepted as the guiding mantra….all of this, as though in the blink of an eye. A social quadruple promotion! A bungee jump without the rope neck of tradition!

Look at me. It is 2011. I am as regular an Indian Mom as they come. My daily interaction is with parents, teachers and young people preoccupied with the business of education. This segment is also representative and reflective of changes in the social and emotional ether pervading our spaces. And it is talking. In grey! There is no black and white, right or wrong. Whatever works best for an individual, whatever makes her happy? There used to be a time when the group, the family, the society came first. It was critical to take their views and welfare into consideration when making personal choices. Not anymore.

What is this symbolic of? Is it mid-course correction? Does it signify a breaking free of the spirit? Is the so called ‘westernization’, a coming of age? Release from social repression at long last? Have we found the magical key to everyone’s personal pot of gold? Time will tell. Many of today’s modern trends were in evidence during the India of ‘Mahabharata’ as well, somewhere on the cusp of Dwapar Yug and Kal Yug. India’s transformation into a puritanical society has since been well documented and researched. The educated Indian today, often prides himself on his people’s apparent ability to be traditional and modern at the same time. But one wonders if in fact, the two terms are not quite mutually exclusive?

No matter how evolved we do become therefore, the following will take us to the edge:
*Decreasing age of the first sexual experience   
*Rise in juvenile crime 
*Increase in single-parent households
*Growing divorce rates
*An estranged youth
*Experiments with alcohol

Perhaps the trick would be to hang on to some of our universally disliked ‘moral and sanctimonious’ colour. We might be right in continuing to focus on knowledge, education, music, books, sports and the extended family. Maybe the new pre-occupation with ‘hot’ looks at the age of 13 or 14 is in fact, as abhorrent as we think it is. Religious trips with the family just might be the thing to do, after all. Let’s have our kids continue to lay the dinner table and chop the salad, in that case! If we do in fact have no choice but to make it to the edge, well then, where is the hurry ?!

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