The frustrated Indian
While people in many other countries are a happy lot, Indians are deeply frustrated and this is spilling into our daily lives
The first time I went overseas, I was annoyed when a passer-by randomly smiled at me. A few minutes later, someone else wished me 'Good Morning'. Too flummoxed to react, I blurted something gibberish. In successive trips, I was able to reciprocate to these friendly overtures from strangers more gracefully. You see, in India, we seldom witness such politeness, positivity, or general happy state of minds. I mean, for the most part, people always seem so pissed off! Most look angry, unhappy, and grumpy. And, why exactly am I discussing this? Our public behaviour is one of the greatest identifiers of the lives we lead.
Indians struggle a lot! Not just the poor and destitute who truly have reasons to frown upon life, but also the scowling working class. Rents are high, pay is low, public transport is a nightmare, not enough clean water and electricity to go around for all. Air is toxic, water bodies polluted, daily needs getting costlier day by day…life is a constant struggle. As I repeatedly say, when the daily trudge to work and back is unsafe (depending on the city you live in, you don't know if you'll reach home in one piece), unhygienic (have you seen and smelt the insides of our buses and metros!), uncomfortable (overcrowded public transport with people jostling for space), uncertain (when it rains, roads get clogged with water and it could take several hours to get home, and other disasters like long traffic jams), there are few reasons to for us to be in a happy state of mind. There are, of course, the privileged few who seem to feel 'only good vibes' and 'self-love', but for the teeming multitudes, there is little to rejoice in life. So, while people in many other countries are a contented lot, we are frustrated!
This happy state of mind does not necessarily manifest itself only in developed countries. Economic power, while playing a significant role, has no direct correlation. Countries with lesser GDP have been able to provide better amenities to their citizens. While personal income tax is progressively levied, it is increasing every year, our GST is the highest in the world. So much tax and so little actual change on the ground. The frustrated Indian obviously reacts to all of life's pressures. He honks like a maniac, drives rashly on the road like a half-witted ape, he swears and abuses loudly in public, he spits everywhere with glee. Along with the illiteracy and lack of civic sense, I feel that this unwelcome behaviour is a product of the times we live in. The age where the average Indian is so frustrated with his life that lumpen behaviour is him venting out his deep-seated feeling of unfulfillment.
In India, we are told to have our guards up. As a teenager, I was taught that women must have an "I'll break your b***s" look on the road to ward off the roadside Romeos. It worked in cities such as Kolkata and Mumbai where irritants are happy with leering and eve-teasing but are nowhere as ambitious as their Delhi-Gurgaon counterparts, who literally sweep women off their feet and briskly pack them into cars before having their way with them. Of all his frustrations, the frustrated Indian's sexual frustrations are the worst. So deprived and depraved is he that even minors are not safe from his hungry hands. 34 minor girls were sedated, starved, abused and raped repeatedly at a government-funded shelter run by an NGO in Bihar. Seven and ten-year-old girls were raped repeatedly. Seven and ten-year-old girls…let that sink in for a while. That is the frustrated Indian living among us. The year is half-way through and the best news has been the Lok Sabha passing a bill to give death penalty to child rapists. Let's hope that the rest of the year passes off without any more such ghastly news. We live in hope.
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. Views are strictly personal)