Saturday, December 8, 2007

A lucky generation

Many years ago, when I was in high school, 9th standard or so, a History teacher made a remark in class that has remained with me to this day. The Soviet Union had just collapsed, and she was trying to explain to us young minds the importance of the occurrence. While its significance was not lost on any of us considering all the media coverage it was getting, I’m not sure any of us could completely fathom the extent of it, or the repercussions it would continue to have for years afterwards. Anyway, the point she made was that we were a lucky generation, to have witnessed events as important as that, and the fall of the Berlin Wall and the invasion of Kuwait, and the first Gulf war. These were historical landmarks, she told us, and we were all witnessing them with our own eyes, brought into our living rooms through our television sets.
I remember her words every once in awhile, every time I go to Delhi and lose my way, because a new flyover has come up, or a metro station, or a mall, or a road made one way. I have the usual Delhi versus Mumbai arguments with my architect friend, who insists Delhi is no better off today than it was five years ago. I go to Connaught Place and marvel at the number of options to eat and drink, and contrast it with many years ago, when as a child, it used to be a birthday treat to go to CP and have ice cream at Nirula’s. Not to mention the regular trips to Chonas in Khan Market, a short walk from school (also usually for birthday treats) which was one of the few eating places then to offer fast food, and salads and pizzas. Now Khan Market is a changed place, with the biggest brands jostling for space. A newspaper article informs me that it’s the most expensive real estate in the country at the moment, and the 16th most expensive in the world. Chonas still exists I believe, though I don’t go there any more.
I witness all these changes in my own country, my own cities, so much closer to home and heart, and I feel lucky indeed. (But then again, the human race is progressing at such a maddeningly fast pace, that that’s an honour no generation will be able to escape.)
I realize they are all a result of the changed economic policies brought about by the Congress in the 90s, and while I do appreciate them on the one hand, realizing the good that they have done the country, I cant also help but be apprehensive of getting blinded by all this prosperity, and forgetting how inequitable the rewards of this progress has been, favouring the cities, and not so much villages and small towns, and the rich and not the poor.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

weren't we in the same class in the 9th standard ?? .. you gotta tell me more about this lecture when we meet next .. seems like i was concentrating on something else while it was going on .. hahaha .. anyways .. an interesting post, this one .. got me thinking a bit as usual .. i used to wonder about the same thing, ki things are changing so fast, which is good, but will we lose what we know and love in the process ? .. will my favourite park still be around in 10 years, or will i see a mall in its place ? .. or what about that samose wala guy ? .. will he still be around selling samosas when i visit the city next ? .. and the answer was .. maybe, maybe not .. i know, a very anti-climatic kind of answer .. : ) .. but i've got lots to write, so hold your horses .. i sometimes told my dad ki aap logon ke liye sahi tha .. u didn't have to worry about career so much .. not so much competition .. open spaces .. housing available easily .. no complications in shaadi (!!) .. dad always laughed and said, well we weren't the same as you are now .. so to us, all that was happening then seemed like a big change .. : ) .. imagine living in a village and being asked to move to the city 50 years ago .. or watching the first road roller roll into the village with dismay .. or watching the trees being cut down to make way for a school .. or seeing the village elders pass away .. isn't all of this in some way what we face today too ? .. life means change .. change is life .. some people find it depressing .. some people find it wonderful .. and some just don't care .. different strokes for different folks .. i couldn't quite make out what my dad was saying that day till my brother was blessed with a baby girl 2 years ago .. watching her grow from a tiny little bundle to a big 2 year old carefree tornado gave me some insight into what dad meant .. coz in this girl, i could see my own carefree childhood, where i was least concerned about life and change and this and that .. made me realize that in 20 years, she'll be wondering about the same things that i'm wondering today and most probably come and say to me the same things that i said to my dad earlier about change .. : ) .. on the other hand, being with her gave me a sense of peace .. because by looking at her, i could see that nothing has really changed .. she is what i was earlier .. and in some years, she will be what i am today .. and she will have kids .. and she will realize then what i have realized now .. life will go on as it always has .. even with all the changes around you, nothing has really changed .. a paradox, isn't it ? .. : ) ..