I was travelling in the bus, reading the newspaper, when I suddenly saw this really old man asking two girls to get up from the seat reserved for the elderly. The girls simply refused to budge out, keeping the man standing. I was shocked, I went to the man and asked him why he dint assert himself, and he sounded helpless and said- “Beta. Ab hum isse zaada kya kar sakte hain?” (Child, What more can I say now?)
This is not the first time I have seen this happen. Instance of younger people sitting in metros/buses even when they see elderly people standing up with difficulties is not a rare sight. And then we, as Indians, take pride in the fact that we are the most ‘cultured’ country. We touch and kiss the feet of older people; unlike the ‘westerners’ we respect our elders. Yeah, like not getting up for them in the metros is royally respecting them!
We have very cleverly established different yardsticks to judge the righteousness of ‘us’ and ‘them’. We reacted vociferously when a few Americans made racist remarks about Ms Davuluri (Miss America of Indian origin). But we forgot that it is India, where a multi-crore rupee cosmetic industry thrives on promises of lightening a woman’s skin color in 10, 20 or 30 days, It is indeed our country, where matrimonials are flooded with appeals of people who want a ‘fair, pretty and homely wife’. Common now, we have to at least laud the American jury to have given her the title, I am sure if she would have been in India far from entering a beauty contest, it is more likely that Ms Davuluri would have grown up hearing mostly disparaging remarks about the color of her skin; she would have been — going by the storyline of most “fairness” cream advertisements — a person with low self-esteem and few friends.
We blatantly call western countries as materialistic societies and ourselves as spiritual, but NO, harassing and beating up your daughter in law for dowry is not being materialistic at all. We worship Durga, Parvati, Lakshmi and thousands of other goddesses, but we are not over with our fixation of preferring baby boys. We are always ready to go and shout and scream at Jantar Mantar, India Gate etc because our politicians are corrupt, but when we ourselves bribe policemen by paying the illicit 100 rupee note to save the official 1000 rupee fine, THAT is not corruption. We are made to pray before meals; some of us revere ann devta (The god of food). But we don’t shy away from wasting tonnes and tonnes of food at weddings when half of the nations’ population can’t manage two square meals a day. We are fiercely independent and liberal minded women, but we still label a sexually active woman, or a woman wearing revealing clothes as- slut, whore and god knows what.
We think we are a ‘collectivistic’ culture as opposed to individualistic cultures because we understand others; we care for others unlike ‘them’. But man, we continue judging others on the basis of clothes, accent, and personal habits, on literally everything! We will continue bitching about you, but that is acceptable, because we are collectivistic, we have the moral high ground. We speak of compassion, but show little for the household help who toil away in our homes. We love to keep our homes very clean, but our streets are littered with garbage. We call the holy river of Ganga as maata (mother), but we throw ashes in it, bathe animals in it, and throw all sorts of garbage in it, literally all sorts.
And any guesses what the biggest hypocrisy is? The culture we are so proud of, we ourselves don’t respect it. We make fun of girls who are dressed like- ‘behen ji’s’, we make fun of peers who can’t speak flawless English. Sigh.
I understand that all this might have been highly cynical. Not all of us are like this. But this is just an angry account of a 20-year-old girl who is sick of seeing hypocrisies, double standards and spinelessness all around her.