Wednesday, 2 August 2017

An Indian's Guide to Empathy

It seems everything I think and gravitate towards has something to do with my country of birth, India.

I have never thought of myself has a "die for your country" patriot, in fact I believe death in all it's forms is so boring and hope that like Kurzweil reports, immortality would be soon be available, I'd even settle for anti-aging.

The feeling or the emotion I keep grappling with I think can be termed as "worry". I worry about this nation, it's fortunes and growth and so on.

To get more specific I worry about the bad roads in Mumbai which do not seem to be getting better ever since my mom walked me to my school and back, in "junior KG". That was around 1994-95. In fact I remember once in when I got to "6th standard", the "service road" right outside my building area was rebuilt with dark black tar and was rolled over to perfection. That fucking filled me with so much pride! I said to myself "fuck yes, India is marching ahead..ignore all those snobby UAE uncle aunties". I didn't really know "fuck" then, but the emotion was close.

Of course that road was "washed away" (as all elders around would put it) with the monsoon. Just like the road outside my building right now which was perfectly rolled with tar a week prior to the BMC election 2017. Now come monsoon, it's simply gone! Craters are literally the size of the ones on moon now. In fact most people now take this moon analogy to be a joke, it's fucking not! The holes really are that big, a rough circle like crater with roughed up edges, with a 3ft radius lies in the middle of road right outside the barber's where I used to get my haircut in the school years.

That was how I care about the roads for some reason, the same goes for the garbage and the filth, the BEST bus, the local trains, schools, kids and people on the road under the andheri flyover, somewhere around the Maruti "sai service" showroom.

A different emotion underlines all of these worries, it's misery. But I have never really been miserable directly because of this, being in the middle class and all that. Never directly affected. So I am not the "die for my nation" patriot, nor directly affected by it's wretched poverty (jayant's style) but just a good ol' homo sapien who is a 100% non sociopath. I have empathy.

This is a good time to mention how I have never quite taken to the standard displays of patriotism in this country. Never bought into the "cricket is a religion" BS, heck, it's a fucking boring game to me — it's not even a team sport! The whole thing rests on the "best" batting guy, and then the bowling guy when he fails. There is no build up, no teamwork in which every player plays a part to get the ball to the rival's goal post. And even then a LOT depends on the right pass, before a score and the entire stadium goes fucking wild! Sheer brilliance, few things can make you as happy as scoring in football.

One explanation for football never catching up here is probably the calorie deficiency! There's already stories about our players not having shoes for the FIFA WorldCup, probably a hoax, but understandable why such an hoax would come into existence. When 50% populations lives on the $2 per day while the 20% of the rest makes $3 per day and then the next 10% probably stuck at $5 (funny how they just leave it "50% less than $2/day" as if expecting it to slide by you the fact that the rest 50% isn't doing all that fucking well either!) it's pretty hard to get excited about running all day after a ball. And of course, we do not have the space, nor can most of us afford a nice pair of shoes.

And since "possession is nine tenths of the law", once cricket got into the psyche, it's stayed there. Hence a lazy boring game like it even today deprives most Indians of the joy of scoring a goal.

A next favorite is the army. I remember thinking since my early days — "there hasn't been a war in years, just what the heck are all those army guys doing?!". I have a pretty good idea of it now, and a lot more empathy for those dudes too. Lack of bullets, jackets, food, pension, the insulting 1lac bucks to their families when they die doing the army stuff. While I understand the importance of the army and it's role, I don't think it's something worthy of being proud of! I would feel much more pride if Mumbai figures out building roads like they should be in the 21st century!

Taking pride in your ability to kill never made much sense to me given how obvious it was that getting along and working together works out so well. Yes I understand the concept of justice, and how Tolstoy said "you don't want war but war wants you" then someone in china said "in peace prepare for war". All good. Point taken.

That simply puts the army into the "necessary evil" category right alongside the concept of government. Do you feel pride for the Indian government too?(email me if yes)

Too bad we've for ages assigned that to money. One of the reasons why India is in this state now. We will get to that later.

Moving on.

Everything I gravitate towards, somehow has the country in the center of it. At times this insanity calms down but then it comes right back.

Blogs like sabhlokcity and deeshaa, explain the origins of Indian's problem and possible solutions. Books like breaking free of Nehru and transforming India did the same.

Frankly, I just read them to understand why the roads suck so much. I got that and a lot more.

After few years I discovered podcasts, I then read all of Ayn rand's work just because two American guys kept talking about it, with bouts of "fuck the president" every few episodes. That got to me. From google street view I understood a long time back America has amazing roads, and still these guys seem to hate the government, not the politicians but the government! Very interesting.

By the time I was done with Atlas Shrugged, I hated the government too, never mind the politicians.

Once again at the core of the curiosity about Atlas Shrugged, America, and "fuck the president" was a desire to better understand what is it happening with India. 

And since we've already covered I'm not "die for country" type, I'm now sure most of the wind behind by sail of curiosity about India was good ol' Empathy.

To be continued..or not.

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