This happened on one Saturday afternoon. My internship was almost about to end so a couple of friends and I decided to go out for lunch. Having had food, we went to get some ice cream from McDonald’s. As we stood outside their store chatting away, a poor kid came up to us and asked for some money. He was persistent and would not leave. We shifted to another corner to avoid facing the kid, which ultimately served the purpose. It struck me later that I could have at least got him some food, if nothing else. But the point is, I didn’t.
That very day was also the last day of Ganesh Chaturthi. A big Aarti had been organised in the building where I live. Residents from all age groups had gathered in the compound, the crowd being dominated by Gujju aunties. One after the other each family moved towards the idol to perform the Aarti. One lady standing right in front of me leaned on towards another female standing very close to her, and insisted that she went ahead to perform the rituals too. The female responded that she could not go near the idol because she was on her periods. The lady who was merrily mingling with the female up to this point, immediately and stealthily switched places with someone else being exposed to this shocking piece of information (!). This society that I live in is replete with elite Mumbaikars who are driven around in BMWs and the various classes of Mercedes, and who choose to flaunt their modern and unorthodox approach towards things in general at every opportunity that they can get their hands on. Their modernity quotient probably takes a back-seat when it comes to basic biology.
On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti, we were asked to assemble at the Gateway of India for a prayer service. This was an event forming part of a project by which the people gathered were to be reminded of Gandhiji’s apparent greatness. The prime reason why many students turned up was, a mark of attendance at this event would fetch them ten extra marks on their total aggregate. On the one hand we advocate that marks are just numbers and not an accurate parameter to judge a person’s true calibre; while on the other, come running to grab those ten extra marks.
When I was in school, a Social Science teacher narrated to us an incident from her life that has stayed with me all these years. She told us that she was a strict parent and that she taught her kids that discrimination in any form is bad. A few years later, on one afternoon, when she was visiting one of her daughters in another city, the cleaning lady asked for a glass of water before she left the house. The teacher’s daughter brought her water in one of the glasses that they themselves used on a regular basis. Concerned about the fact that a cleaning lady used the same glass as her, the teacher questioned her daughter, to which she responded by pointing out that the cleaning lady was only human and the utensils were washed every day, and therefore, there was no reason for the teacher to fret. Perhaps, the teacher had forgotten some of the lessons she once taught.
Don’t you think all of us, in one way or another, are hit by hypocrisy? We expect others to finish their work on time but expect certain liberties when the tables are turned towards us. We judge others for we see them waste their time, while all we simultaneously do is wait for another season of Game Of Thrones to air. We give out advice to our over-weight friends about unhealthy eating habits while hogging French Fries under the garb of “comfort food” (sometimes, even off others’ plates!). We label people as pretentious behind their backs but try to make nice with every one when it comes to day-to-day affairs, because “kis gadhe ko kab baap banana pad jaaye, kya pata!” We change our display pictures on social media and update statuses to extend our support for the rights of the homosexuals but the first comment that we educated geniuses can come up with when we see one of our male friends wear pink on a fateful day is, “How gay bro!”, like being gay were such a terrible thing.
We often wonder what is wrong with the world that we call home. May be we could start searching for answers by looking at ourselves in the mirror? May be for once, we could mean what we say and say only that we mean? Or practice what we preach or not preach at all? Because what a delightful place it would be, if America could actually act upon its words to contribute towards peace instead of secretly funding wars; and if Indian politicians could understand that there are better ways of protest that smearing ink over people’s faces and vandalising people’s units of livelihood; and if our grandmothers could utilise that lota full of milk to feed someone in need instead of pouring it over a piece of rock; or that I buy the poor kid some food if he happens to approach me next time, instead of blogging about it.
Some food for thought hurt no one, right?