Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Woes of a woman ....

Gayathri woke up with a heavy head at 7.30 am overshooting her normal quota of sleep by over an hour. She cursed the alarm that didn't go off and breezed through her morning rituals. The moment she was about to slam the door, she realized that she had left the keys inside. Damn ! She dropped the apple she was about to eat on her way and let it skid its way down the stairs. That's when her mobile decided to ring its fancy ringtone. She ignored the call, grabbed the keys and finally dragged her way out of the tiny one bedroom apartment. She jabbed her finger at the button several times to summon the lift, but the lift didn't seem to respond at all. A few seconds later she noticed the minuscule "Out of Order" sign and scooted her way down the steps. She found the apple downstairs and kicked it with all her might, as if that would alleviate her of her anger. That's when the watchman stopped her and asked her to pay the maintainance bill right away. After several negotiations and explanations Gayathri obliged unwillingly, scraping the last of her hard-earned money meanwhile holding back enough change to commute. Didn't anyone have sympathy these days? After bargaining with several passing auto's she summoned an empty one that agreed to her budget. She was thankful that the auto driver was considerate enough of not to strike a conversation and she spent those few minutes clearing her head and bracing herself for yet another strenuous day at work.

Gayathri was skeptical about joining the rat race. But the voluptuous pay lured her into it. At her workplace, she stared into the eerie glow of the monitor trying to figure out what those bunch of lines implied. At lunch,she ate a solitary meal consisting of a bland salad from the canteen and continued with her programming.

Suddenly at around 7 in the evening a wave of nausea swept over her. She felt bovine and decided to call it a day and she somehow found herself walking past the gate and across the pavement. It was the breeze that stirred the wistful emotion within her. Slowly tears started rolling down her cheeks, the mascara trailing a black path on her rosy cheeks. She felt sick. She looked heavenwards and screamed - "Why? Why me? Why?"

The heavens decided to take pity and cry along with her. A lightning streaked across the sky, momentarily lighting her teary face. She let the raindrops wash her face; the tears along with the raindrops softly caressing her tear stained face. Gayathri reached home totally drenched with her wet blue cotton salwar clinging to her 7 month swollen abdomen. She fumbled her way to the mantel and looked at the photograph surrounded by a withered garland. She scooped up the photograph of her husband and clung to it like a child as she wept.

Can India be strong... a pessimistic approach...

We keep saying we are a confident people but confident people don’t need such self-reinforcement. The truth is that after decades of feeling inadequate we are re-emerging as a nation and as people. It’s tough. Resurgent nations articulate power clumsily and often succumb to chauvinism as they seek redress for fast grievances and recognition for their new status. That’s what happened in Germany and Italy in 1930’s and what India (and China) are grappling with now.

This change causes turmoil at a personal level too. But we seldom realize or talk about it because we are not big on emotional self-understanding. In the years we obsessed over bread-and-butter issues, our parents and teahers focused us on achieving financial security, not personal actualization. It made us cling to family rather than explore our individualism and pushed us into professions in which we had no inclination or interest. Now, manyu of us feel a conflict between our material and inner lives. Add to this our unresolved national traumas, such as partition and the indignity of everyday life, and it’s easy to see why our innate Indian character of rectitude and moderation is loaded with insecurity, and anger.

Fitting our complex emotions into a corporate world that demands ational professionalism is tough. Managers complain youngsters are addicted to lucre and allergic to feedback. Youngsters moan their superiors have feudal mindsets and archaic skill sets. This complex corporate sociologyis delibilating employees and corporate growth. Parents and ecationists are now bringing up children differently. But in the meantime, CEOs should invest in the training and counseling needed to ease the subterranean strains running through India Inc. as Alexis de Tocqueville said, it was america’s “rugged individualism” that made the country great. India’s fragile collectivism cannot build strong companies, or the nation