Friday, 23 August 2013
India and I- do we have the same neighbors?
Last few days have been busier than I had asked for! The 'Love Across Borders' anthology consumed most of my time and energy. With the amount of buzz that has been created around this book you are aware that it was a simple attempt of some authors from both sides of the border to tell tales of how common people from India and Pakistan- the two most controversial neighbors in the world map- could strike friendships and send messages of peace. Now while this book was well received and our efforts greatly appreciated, something was happening nearer home which had striking resemblance to the problem at the real border.
Last to last weekend when Saurabh and I returned from our usual Sunday welagiri we were greeted with a peculiar problem. The place where we park our car was laden with tree branches and leaves. Obviously there was no place to park and hence Saurabh started to find the culprit who had dared to fall a huge tree right outside our house. After some inquiry, we realized that our very next door neighbor was responsible (incidentally he was parked in his balcony observing Saurabh move here and there asking people who had fallen the tree). So anyways, he requested this neighbor to 'kindly' clear the mess from front of our house so we could at least park our car. Now those who do not understand the gravity of this situation must know that to have a proper space for your car around your house in Delhi is not a need. Its a luxury! Cutting the long story short, this usually docile neighbor hurt his ego big time when my usually quiet and non interfering husband asked him curtly to 'clear' the parking space as those sharp branches and wires (yes he even cut some cables in the process) could result in a Tyre puncture. He did come down and manually tried to pile up the scattered mess but while doing so he passed a comment which is still ringing in my ears. He advised Saurabh to be SOCIAL.
Both me and my husband have studied in English medium schools and thus we could not understand how Saurabh could be UNSOCIAL just because a) he did not want a tree to be cut b) he did not want a punctured car the next morning c) he had asked the same guy who had created the mess to clear it.
However we did not dig further into an argument as our relationship with this particular household date back to more than 25 years! But since then something has changed. And it has changed gravely. The neighbor in question's Mom was quite pally with our Mom but she doesn't look her way now. The neighbor in question's wife was okay pally with me (I strike conversations with neighbors very sparingly and my MIL tells me how some of them think I am very shy!) but at least twice since then she has ignored my smiles quite unabashedly. I am not saying we really miss them but the whole point of raising this situation in my blog here is the uncanny similarity between the scenario in my personal neighborhood and my country's.
Imagine this: Saurabh and that guy are the two governments.The elders in both houses are like our armed forces. Me and his wife are representatives of the state and our kids are the common janta or awaam. Other neighbors are different countries.
The governments think that they were put in a nasty situation and it was necessary to raise relevant concerns when normal protocols of living together in harmony were harmed- being rude and polite is a subjective term.
The armed forces are only concerned that their own Government's stand is protected; they do not care if the friendship of 25 years is ruined because all they will do is guard their own territory with might or mind.
The representatives are crushed in the situation as even if they want to, they cannot disappoint the Government or Forces' stand.
The other countries take advantage of this hostility and as a result that huge mess of a fallen tree is now a safe dumping ground for everyone's garbage (Its been more than two weeks and that pile is as it is- right in front of our eyes, in between our two cars).
But what about the common man! He is the observer- assimilating the whole situation from the outside, not getting directly affected except of course when he is targeted. Well for them, all four parties should make sincere efforts so they understand the situation in the right perspective and not be misled by colored opinions.
This is what we have done in our rule- We told them the situation as is and asked them to tell us who they think is wrong. They answered that they have always been taught to not just keep their house clean but also ensure that they do not dirty someone else's.
I guess this exactly reflects the sentiments of how a common man feels these larger issues can be resolved.