Independence Day

In our 67th year of Independence, we are just about standing up straight as a nation despite the evils of deep-rooted corruption and backward thought pulling us down. We should be proud.

As a people, each one has his own definition of and perspective on independence that he strives for, to carve out an identity for himself in society. For the respect of society. In India, respect is the most powerful weapon and reverence – its favourite pastime.

As far as my own journey is concerned, this year has been crucial in terms of my independence. The experience of living in a strange city with few support systems has been enlightening to say the least. To venture away from the comfort of familiarity and be pushed towards the struggle of a new life alone has been tough yet illuminative. My battle with proud poverty has been constant. Pride, because you feel a sense of achievement for every month you survive with the money you earn. The initial jolt of having a three-digit bank account truly educates you about the value of earning a healthy amount of money. You need money to live. Otherwise, you just survive.

While managing a house, there is a constant outflow of money. You never really settle down. The bills just keep piling up. Rent keeps rearing its ugly mug every month, bleeding you dry.

The five odd months of this struggle has given me some sort of perspective with regards to the people in India – at least in the three metros – Pune, Mumbai and Delhi.

Delhi is innately aggressive in love and hatred. The people will either love you with all their heart or hate you with the same amount of malice. Much like the weather, the people oscillate between the extremities of hot and cold. They are an ambitious people and Delhi is extremely wealthy. It’s easier here if you have a lot of money.

Mumbai, on the other hand, is a land for every pocket. You can struggle comfortably there. Struggling is a given. You’re either a billionaire or part of the rest. And the rest have to take the impossibly crowded trains from the unbelievably filthy platforms. They have no choice but to wait patiently in the inescapable traffic jams. They have to wade through floods and fall prey to diseases and bear the incessantly scorching heat. There is no concept of winter. They must live far away from their work-place. They must shell out an exorbitant amount of money to live in a box. There are frustrations, but there are also avenues to vent. You have the Janta’s and the Gokul’s, where the atmosphere has the perfect mix of shady and safe. Dim lighting, ugly drunken brutes with an equal amount of respectable women. Everyone is accepted. This collusion of classes and cultures adds a certain amount of character to the city and makes it extremely accommodating.

Pune is getting there. It’s a baby Bombay. Pune is still a slow city, but has gotten and is getting progressively fast-paced over the years. It’s a city run by the teenagers and the orthodox settlers – a distinct point of difference from Delhi. In Pune, most women have to come out of the closet straight, while the boldness of the gay culture in Delhi is astounding. Certain cultures still have reservations about the openness of the Pune woman. But the teenagers are slowly rebelling. It is an exciting time to witness the result of this rebellion. This teenage struggle.

Struggle is a necessity. Struggle is your wisest teacher. The key is to learn to love struggle and all that comes with it. Take some risks. Strive to be the hero of your life at the risk of being a victim. Go for broke.      

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Lord don’t move the mountain,
But give me strength to climb it
Please don’t move that stumbling block,
But lead me Lord around it

The way may not be easy,
You didn’t say that it would be
For when our tribulations get too light,
We tend to stray from Thee.

–          Mahalia Jackson

The Pursuit of Happyness – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NoLh4xYp1Y

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