Friday, September 29, 2017

Apathy Kills

We Indians are immune to loss of lives and tragedy, especially when it happens to others. 

People die everyday - somewhere due to terror attacks, somewhere due to atrocities of armed forces, somewhere due to riots triggered by smallest of issues (religion is a small issue too in larger scheme of things), somewhere due to overwhelming debts, and somewhere due to apathy of people and government towards basic rights of the citizens.

And death, the unnatural death,  is not the only thing, we have got immune to. We are immune to squalor and poverty. We are immune to lack of civility in public places. We get used to slums around our apartments. We stop even registering them, learning to ignore them and turning a blind eye towards such issues. The list of such things is endless. And things don't change, irrespective of the political disposition in power. 

Then there is this another thing I have started hating over the years - The famous Mumbai Spirit, touted by politicians and people alike, as some form of divine strength we possess. No, it is not. It is basically our inaction and inability to change things, given a nice name, to make all of us feel less guilty. 2005 floods, we got stuck. We moved on. Bomb blasts in successive years. 26/11. Elphinstone Station Stampede. We just move on, going about our daily lives, as if nothing happened. We don't hold anyone accountable. We don't change anything within ourselves. We don't care. And, why Mumbai? This apathy is all pervasive, in each city in India, in each village. But you may not have noticed. We don't have time to notice.

We are the people who play our loudspeakers at ear shattering volumes during all festivals, not caring, that someone's kid might be sick and need rest. We are the same people who drink and drive without caring for lives of people sleeping on roads. We are the same people who find people sleeping on roads okay. We are the people who know where to fix blame, but we don't know where to fix accountability. 

Yesterday's incident is not something that shocked me. It happened few minutes away from where my office was in Mumbai till few months back. I am in Chennai. That's why it hasn't shocked me? No. Even, if I was at that station at that very time, when the stampede occurred at Elphinstone Station, and I wasn't hurt or I hadn't lost someone close to me, I wouldn't have been shocked. 

And this apathy kills me... kills you... kills all of us...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Moving and Packing

28th Feb 2017: It was the last day at my previous job. I left my earlier organization after almost 10 years. I brought home three small cardboard boxes. 10 years, packed in three boxes. I was not allowed to bring back few things from office which I thought I own. Like the awards, my campaigns won. In fact, I have not even opened those three boxes since. And, I thought I would need those items.

29th Aug 2017: We were packing (movers and packers were doing their job, quickly and impersonally) for our impending move to Chennai. Leaving Mumbai, was a tough decision. But it was made with due diligence many many months ago. The entire household stuff we took along fitted in 47 boxes - big and small. Interestingly, we left lot of stuff behind. More importantly, we packed a small handbag, which carried all things very precious to us. We didn't want to lose any of these things, so we wanted to take that small bag along with us, in person, rather than transporting it. These things were precious, not necessarily, because of its monetary value. Some items hold immense emotional value for us. Like the customized wrappers of the chocolates, we distributed on our son's birth or a letter written by a friend years ago.

As I was going through the motions, during that hectic period of moving and packing, my thoughts were all over the place. I was little sad, because I was leaving the city that has given me so much (Read here). I was happy, because after 5 months of intense travelling and staying in hotels, finally I would get to spend more time with my family and my son. I was apprehensive, because I still don't feel comfortable with culture of the new city and the organization. It will take a long time to get acclimatized to it. After all, as you grow older, your adaptability goes down.

But then your acceptance goes up, as you grow older. You become more patient with things and people. You take lot of bullshit in your stride, relatively easily. You become more aware of what you truly value. There was immense learning in this entire exercise of moving and packing. I thought I must put it down in writing. Here are some lessons:

1. You never truly own anything. Things are ephemeral. What holds value for you today, may not be that important, when the context changes.

2. Loss of things don't hurt that much. What hurts you most is loss of people whose company you truly value.

3. You can plan your life to the last detail, but you still can't control the results.

4. Invest in experiences and create memories, rather than buying things. Those fridge magnets, from your past holidays, are far more important than that costly microwave oven.

5. Let go of the excess baggage. Moving and packing takes an emotional toll on you. But then there is nothing a chilled beer can't fix.

It has been 20 days since we moved to Chennai. I am sure eventually, we will settle here as well. We will find things we love to do. We will make new friends. We will explore new places. We will buy more things. But I will never be in my 20's again. Mumbai, will always remain my pehla pyaar, my first love.