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Friday, 12 August 2016

The "Cool Dude"

He was what the GeNext describes as a "cool dude"! To try and decipher what it actually means is quite an arduous  task. However I will attempt to do so from possibly describing the kind of person he was. Educated, with a fairly decent paying job, with interests in and enthusiasm for normal pastimes like movies, sports, hanging out with friends and girl friends, party hard, drink harder, generally dismissive of dogmas and selectively of religious rituals, opinionated yet accommodative, politically aware without being a follower. In short a 'normal' city bred English medium type in his early 30s! With a sense of optimism that resides in such people. Quite popular in his professional and social circles.


There is that indescribably something about the air in India. Or is it the water? Whatever may be the case, the social milieu of India is such that more often than not, it breeds people of a type who are quite unique when compared to people of many a land. Is it the history of accommodation and acceptance over a millennia that this land has witnessed? Or is it the secular, plural and syncretic lives lived by our forefathers which have been passed on to the subsequent generations? That unexplainable thing called the 'Idea of India' or as the youngsters have a penchant to put it succinctly as "We are like that only"? Whatever it may be but being Indian defies any mundane definition and it doesn't conform to any stereotype under any standard operation manual.


Just as it seemed that the good times are about to graduate into great times, disaster struck. The slowdown of the Indian economy hit hard, where it hurts the most. The wallet! First vide a freeze on increments, to reduction in pay packets, to temporary benching to a pink slip. Well so what? There is this sheer optimism of an Indian youth which is difficult to beat down. India after all was touted as the land of opportunities. Something or the other will knock the doors, sooner rather than the later was the primary narrative. Then reality struck. There were too many with pink slips floating around in the employers market for anybody's good. Too many CVs chasing too few jobs. And when a young blood refuses to compromise either on the job profile or be pragmatic enough to take a lower paycheck, virtually it is back to 70s Bollywood films with "No vacancy" boards. Post taking an enforced sabbatical, exhausting all options and cleaning out the savings account dry, it seemed the only option left was to take up that job offer in "gulf", a euphemism for the middle east. The "cool dude" took it!


India meanwhile was in an upheaval. A right wing party came to power. Intolerance rose. The very "idea of India" was under threat. Headlines screamed. Television screamed louder. Secularism was under threat. India will soon become a "Hindu Pakistan" was the emerging narrative. Liberal voices were being crushed and minorities were on the verge of being reduced to second class citizen. Majoritarianism ran roughshod over the constitutional guarantees and doomsday prophecies were being readied that suggested the balkanization of India.


He took up his job responsibilities. Toiled for his scheduled 8-10 hours a day. All alone, virtually friendless in an alien land, alien country, for succour he turned what? He couldn't dig out joints to party. The conventional types of parties. Not on his salary package. Co-workers were more of the same and beyond duty hours had no time for the "outsider". TV was tiring. Internet was heavily censored. Even phone lines were eavesdropped upon. Social Media watched. Those picnic spots were a bore without friends. And there were no temples. It did strike him odd later, much later as to why he was asked to remove the Ayyappa dollor along with the Rudrakshamala it was tied to during his immigration formalities. It struck him everyday, day after day that however much he tried or may have tried, he was the perennial outsider. His abilities, his skills didn't matter. None gave him an identity anymore. His hobbies, his knowledge, his attitude didn't matter. Beyond work, he was not a Salman Khan fan, he wasn't a Manchester United enthusiast, he wasn't a good social companion. He was no longer the "cool dude"! He was not even an Indian! 


Meanwhile intolerance levels was peaking in India, as artists and authors returned their awards, as daily headlines brought out information on yet another ban on yet another film, book, person or cuisine while the other end of the spectrum called it a political ploy or outraged over hypocrisy. It was around this time that the "cool dude" decided to take his biannual vacation back to India. We all gathered enthusiastically to welcome him back. To renew our regular hangouts. Party hard. Paint the town red. The works! It was then that  we realized. The "cool dude" was no more. Instead the person who met us was a Hindu!

You are right. Intolerance has indeed peaked in India.


PS: The "Cool Dude" 2 soon!


Dollor : Pendent
Rudhrakshamala : 

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