Thursday, November 23, 2006

A walk to remember

That was a breezy evening when I decided to take a walk. Nature seemed to be in a state of indecision. The sun was barely visible and every now and then a cluster of clouds would darken the sky and lower visibility. Nevertheless, the effect was warm and pleasant and after a long day's work inside closed doors, my legs needed a walk pretty badly.
I always love the atmosphere that a bustling road provides. One can see the cars and buses speeding by carrying people to their destinations. One can leave the imagination to conjure up fantastic views of their long journeys. It is a hobby of mine to take long walks by the NH 45 taking in the sights of crowded buses, milestones offering assistance to drivers, the trees planted close to the roads waving their branches and speaking to each other in strange tongues...
That day, I was in a happy mood due to the indecisive weather that was driving people away from their offices early to the comfort of their homes. It appeared that anyime, the sky may start pouring down. Humming old hindi melodies like 'Gata rahe mera dil', with hands in my pockets,I walked.
A small pup was sniffing the grass perilously close to the highway looking for something to eat. It was quite a sight to stand still and observe the pup. It never seemed to mind my presence and continued lazily to search for some lost treasure. I wondered where its parents were and what thoughts might be running in its little head.
Just ahead, a van swerved to the left and came to a halt. The menfolk got down to urinate. Why does this always happen? Can't they find a place more suited to relieve themselves? Some pop number was playing inside the van and it was an assault on the peaceful weather.
I came to a bus stop where some womenfolk were waiting for the next bus. A man was dozing off within the shelter unmindful of the bustle around him. The women had been apparently waiting for a long time and were getting restless.
(will be continued)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Today's youth - victims of stereotypes?

Are we seeing the world through stereotyped eyes? Can human beings ever be objective and consider each other without prejudices? Is all of humanity doomed to reap the seeds of subjectivity? Ask yourself the following questions and you will soon know how you look at people around you.

If a man cries or if he is a regular at a beauty saloon, do you think him queer?
If a woman drives a vehicle fast, do you consider her arrogant?
If a man spends more time shopping or gossiping, do you find him less masculine?
If a woman drives a bike or if she spends a lot of time hanging out, do you find her less womanish?
If a teenaged boy chooses to sit beside a young female in a train, do you feel he has wrong intentions?
If a teenaged girl chooses to do the same, do you think she is being coquettish?
Do you find a person who reads more than others to be a recluse?
Do you find a person who laughs and talks more than others to be boastful?

The youngsters of today are unfortunately victims of such stereotypes and find it difficult to even think about society’s reactions if they defy them and act differently. In a world where the advertisements force young girls to be anorexic to shed that extra pound of fat to get that hour glass figure of models, it is not surprising. The same advertisements force young men to sweat it out in the gym to get that toned up masculine body.

And the worse fact remains that more often than not, these advertisements get their point across and manage to sell their products. Are we being forced to look through stereotyped eyes or are we choosing of our own will to do so?

Young men and women of today are a confused lot having to meet the high parental expectations and at the same time trying their level best not to invite the society’s ire. We call ourselves a rapidly developing country with dynamic young men and women of promising potentials. Yet, inadvertently we let them fall victims to these stereotypes in their prime youth.

Somewhere down the line it has become important for men to have the best looking girl friends and for women to have the wealthiest boy friends. The increasing number of occasions for social interactions in the way of parties and coffee shops are testimonies to this sorry tale.

By not allowing a person to be his/her true self and not respecting him/her for individuality are we not destroying their potential? Are we not sowing dangerous seeds? By deeming professions other than engineering and medicine to be the resort of low scoring students are we not forcing them to take that road which some find uncomfortable and less gratifying?

The only honest answer to all the above questions is a huge and overwhelming yes. If not addressed soon, this may spiral out of hand and take alarming proportions. Every person is endowed with a unique talent and every person is different in his/her own way and we must learn to respect people for it.

OSACR WILDE wrote about influence in his novel ‘THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY’ – “he becomes an echo of someone else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self.”

In my humble opinion, the day people are respected for their individuality and encouraged to behave in their natural manner is the day we have realized the true power of freedom.