Tuesday, April 26, 2016

StayUncle to the rescue of lovelorn youth

The great clashes that no doubt happened at some ancient times between the proponents of Manu’s Smriti  and those of  Vatsyayan’s Kamasutra  (the two leading treatises on social mores) find  strange echoes in our times.
On one hand we have the love-busting, honor killing, anti-valentine, love jihad types.  They move out in large gangs at any breach of what is deemed in those circles as … perhaps violation of their views of social mores?  
(who gave them the right to decide for the rest of us?)
Any marriage that cuts across gotra or caste or religious lines?  Bears any tinge of a more liberal acceptance of human differences and the right of the individual to personal choices that Hinduism in its vast repertoire offers?
 On the other is the liberal attitude that wonders why two people who know and accept each other, cannot live together practicing and respecting the faiths they have followed since birth.
It is a fact of life in India that we tend to bear down on our younger generations pretty heavily.   Perhaps one of the worst cases is the attitude towards giving young couple privacy --- that causes many family rifts.
It is not always a matter of choice.  A vast number of households are so terribly short of space; most cannot afford separate homes, making for a lot of heartburn all round.
While adjustments rule the roost in such households, never mind the inconvenience, it is young unmarried lovers who are even bigger losers.   How do they find out  if they will fit later?
In a day and age when divorces happen faster than marriages,  pre marital sex is assuming importance, even in the minds of parents; witness the mother in Ki and Ka.  
Irrespective of whether the couple is committed or not, in urban areas at least, sexual encounters are on the cards, for pleasure, for testing ground and for getting to know each other better.  These entail a private space to speak to each other peacefully…. Something that is at a premium, with all the busybodies who rule the roost in gardens and other public spaces.
Is it not a sad statement of the India of our times, when there is so many thousands of crores floating around on so much hot air about  creating  infrastructure, including lakhs of affordable homes for those who need them.
The actual number of such schemes floated is tiny.  Those that actually see light of day are tinier still.  Where do the poor sorry souls take refuge when moral brigade police even small hotels and motels and decent hotels would be out of pocket?
Some bright spark has come up with a start up for just such souls, a   StayUncle app the promises to get them hotel bookings for upto 10 hours for half the day price, no questions asked.
Every startup happens because there is a need to be fulfilled.  This one too.  Quite the opposite of Ashok Chakradhar’s:
“Aadmi ki fitrat nahi badalti
Telephone pe baat isliye karte

Kyonki shakal pasand nahi.”

Monday, April 11, 2016

Of Youth, Blasphemy & Media Trials

Way into my 60s, my sympathies are with Gen.Next.  India’s become a tough place to live in:  no smiling, laughing, jokes, loving, drinking, no what not.
Only Ram naam japna…... India from sadhudom to dogmatist capitalism. Two of our best-adjudged universities facing bigoted media trials.
Take heart. It was not always like this. Nor will it remain so.  YOU guys need cool hearts and wits to achieve genuine Achhe Din.   Since Time Immemorial, the child has been the father of Man.  Across the world, huge changes have been rung in by Youth Brigades.
Take the caste imbroglio.  Ask the powers-that-be to read the Satyanarayan katha aarti: a Raja outdone by a Bhil woodcutter in faith; a greedy bania coming to woe vs. cowherds’ devotion and more.   Even mythological tales speak of lower castes as better human beings.  
Some twenty odd years ago, writing against the deification of the past, I mentioned Mahatma Gandhi’s “bania non cooperation.” Eyebrows were raised; I explained that Gandhi was born and bred a bania; that molded a thought process the yielded the non-cooperation plan, in which business continued as usual but no taxes paid.  Profit hi profit, dande me, no taxes and huge numbers joining the freedom movement.
Earlier during university celebrations of the Mahatma’s birth centenary, an intercollegiate elocution event focused on facets of his teachings.  Never a great fan, I endured the spouting over all his teachings. My turn came near the end.  Pakoed by all the eulogy, I set aside my prepared speech and asserted that to achieve our goal of all round development for all, India cannot afford to be held back by outdated, rural-based philosophies.  Perhaps it is time to place the Mahatma and all his preachings into a time capsule to be launch into outer space!!
Imagine the reaction to such Blasphemy!  Gandhian judges ready to burst. The crowd parted to make way for me to leave. The next day,  ‘take care,’ or ‘best of luck’ whispers helped pass time waiting for the Principal’s summons.
But I was summoned to the Staff Room, deserted except for the Vice Principal, ensconced at the far end, fingers steepled in front of him.  Staring at his fingers, he read me a half hour lecture….
“As Father of the nation, he deserved homage on his centenary; social niceties demanded that and we were bound by such niceties.  We live in a social circle, people are hurt otherwise etc etc etc…..
The steeple broke into laced fingers in his lap.
“I’m sorry Sir.  It will not happen again.”  
After a silence, I asked “Will that be all?”
At his nod, I started to turn, ‘Just a minute,”
Finally I met his twinkling eyes  “I tend to agree with you,”  he said.
I almost curtsied as I held back a triumphant burst of laughter. Nothing more was ever said.
Perhaps that generation of elders knew that soon enough, I would understand that India’s colossal varieties need a multiplicity of approaches to help them into the 21st century.

Now when will our generation achieve such wisdom?