Monday, April 26, 2010

Something amiss, something scary...

There's something very scary about Bangalore which freaks the hell out of me. At first glimpse, it seems like a pretty nice place, full of parks, greenery, a cosmopolitian culture, and a populace which does not look at you like an unfortunate alien when you speak in Hindi. And yet, just when you think you're getting comfortable with this place rather quickly, you sense something amiss.

Maybe I should switch over to saying 'I' rather than 'you', for I guess it is a somewhat peculiar thing which most other people might not feel. Since landing up here, I've ended up going to a couple of malls, more for their extensive grocery stores than anything else. Whenever I go to any of these places, I sense a strange feeling of indifference in everybody around me. COmplete, utter indifference in anything and everything save for themselves, this satiated kind of look and demeanour. It feels like they have reached some place and don't know what quite to do with it, what quite to do with life now. Most of this is my generation, or the one a few years older than me, the ones who've earned inordinate amounts of money through the software boom. I sense a sense of hardening in them, in their glazed faces, their overflowing shopping bags, their branded clothes and accessories. And as I walk through them, I suddenly realize that pretty soon, I would be one of them. It's a scary feeling. I feel a sense of dread and utter panic every time I walk through these malls, and a residual depression after I leave them. There is something in them which affects me deeply, making me feel that we, as a country are going in the wrong direction. We might have more money than ever before, even accounting for inflation and all that jazz, we might have better career oppotunities, but we seem to be more unhappy, more bored and more lost. We have glitz and glamour all around us, but the core seems hollow.

I picked up the week's groceries from one of these places, and reached the fruit and vegetable weighing counter, where all the green stuff had to be weighed and labeled by an attendant before the final billing counter. A young girl in her late 20s was (wo)manning it. Another girl, a well-dressed young thing handed over some apples and waited impatiently, getting worked up as every second passed. The attendant apparently couldn't read very easily, and had trouble going through the list of farm produce. With a hesitant finger pointing at the sheet, she read each item in the list, taking a second or two to move on to the next one. After about half a minute, during which the well-dressed girl was getting more and more worked up, she lost her cool, and yelled at the attendant, saying 'Can't you read? It's this one!!!' The attendant got all flustered and started taking even more time, until she finally reached the particular item, confirmed it a few times with a shaky finger, and gingerly punched at the printing machine.

I handed over the stuff which I wanted to get weighed, and waited patiently for the attendant to label it. The poor girl was on the verge of tears, and probably wanted to just run away. I couldn't help wonder - What is her fault that she couldn't read well? What are we turning into? It might seem like an isolated case of rudeness, but somehow I get a feeling that this is something which is pervading through our society at an alarming rate. I see the same kind of indifference and 'how can you not know/do/think' feeling everywhere.

At times, I just feel running away from it all. But where do I run off to? How do I escape this? This is India, modern India, whether we like it or not. This is what the rest of the urban centers of our nation are going to turn into within a few years. I get this strange, absolutely terrorizing feeling that I am going to be horribly lost amidst all this, with my slightly left-leaning, conservative (about capitalism) views, about wanting equality and equal growth opportunities for everybody and not being too thrilled with 'development' as it is happening now :|

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