Have you seen a cat walking on the wall? The cat walks slowly on the wall sniffing out for food, looking on either side, judging which is a better place to jump in, confused if it is some other cat’s territory, cautiously steps forward and strides on over the high and low walls. I seem to be more like this cat. Walking up and down the wall with traditions and culture on one side of the wall and modernism and westernization on the other side of the wall. The previous generation was happy to stay on the tradition side of the wall. The next generation dudes have already caught up with the modernism and westernization and are happy on the other side of the wall. It is people like me who was born on one side of the wall, grew up on that side, not willing to stay there and neither willing to get on to the other side of the wall are now perched on the wall scratching my head with my paw.
I was brought up as this conservative girl who will be inside the house by 6pm. Will hesitate to sit in a hall filled with uncles. Never spoken to a guy in privacy and hardly I had given my mobile number to guys. Never missed a class in college, never missed my morning prayers, never indulged in food and clothes, never spoke against elders, never gotten on a bike with a guy. Dress well below the knee, hair pulled up in a braid, bindi and accessories are a must, flowers are a must on Friday. Light the lamp by 6pm, never sleep after lights are on, always some morsel of food to the crow and much much more. People of this generation reading this will be thinking, ‘What a boring life this girl has lived!’
And suddenly within a span of years everything changed. The world has shrunk within your palms. Everything is accessible, you get to know how people live on the other end of the world and you want to adopt it. I am this kid who gets excited by seeing the candy but I don’t like all of those candies. Some of them are way too much for me to digest while some of them seem to be sweet and I want more of it. And some of those mixed feelings are..
- I want to celebrate every festival with proper religious rites and homemade sweets but now the festivals are tuning into holiday vacations and homemade sweets are turning into custom order from sweet stalls.
- I want to keep my wedding a low profile with close friends yet I don’t want to say no to all those rituals and yagnas and blessings.
- I want to sport the mangalsutra with pride and not hide it or remove it or pin it with the T shirt.
- I want to try out different cuisines and different food but never touch beef.
- It irks me to read or hear the usage of words like f***, whore. Worse when girls find it cool to call themselves bitches.
- I want to wear comfortable clothing and roam around but it bothers me when a girl keeps pulling up or down her Tee which just fits right.. Definitely not interested to see that jockey and tommy hilfiger popping out.
- It scares me to think that humility is having a slow death when school kids with fake accent boast about their dad’s house and cars..
- I want to meet people from different culture and embrace it but I just cannot go into a pub and party or dance away.
- If I reach home before 6pm it is kind of miracle. Be it returning from work or roaming through the streets shopping and dining and returning late. I enjoy the freedom in my hand.
- I am super comfortable to sit in a conference room full of pants and shirts and me being the only girl, putting across my views loud and clear. Making sure it gets heard.
- I enjoy healthy conversation and arguments with guys. But it irks me to sit in a crowd with guys having smoke in one hand and drinks in another.
- I snap back at any guy who tries to put down me or any girl. I am no longer a submissive girl nor someone who needs a brother, father, husband for security.
- I do not stop my girl buddies when they want to booze but I do not like to drink and I am against drinking and smoking.
- I want to choose the guy with whom I will spend the rest of my life and it bothers me when my parents point to a random guy as a prospective groom.
- I no longer mind to be the pillion rider of a bike but I just cannot think of a live in relationship with a guy.
- I am happy to see McD and KFC at the end of long tiring day with no food but it bothers me to see the mother at the counter buying stuff to shut the wailing kid.
- I want to travel the length and breadth of the country and that of the world and it bothers me when people think that girl travelling with strangers will be of low in virtue and easy to take over.
- I am happy when am part of family decisions and am more than happy when my parents listen to my life decisions. But am disappointed to hear stories of in laws and daughter in laws.
- Being in love and relationship and marrying the guy or girl of your choice seems right but sex before marriage just does not seem right.
- Internet seems to be a boon with so much of knowledge provided in your fingertips. But at the same time it is disturbing to read 80% of Indian high school students discuss about porn and 20% of students in Delhi have had sex when they are in school.
- It is nice to see women decide when they want to have a baby but it just does not seem right to have the nannies see the kids grow while we are busy in our work.
- While it has become so easy to cross boundaries and reach different parts of the world to earn in dollars and euros, it looks sad that you cannot even celebrate a festival with your family.
- While am enjoying the benefits of nuclear family and the privacy it brings along, it is quite alarming to see that these days the nuclear families does not even include your parents and the tolerance level is way down.
So I am this girl who however able to embrace the benefits provided by modern India, just cannot let go off few of her principles from her root. I stretched my legs and continued to walk along the wall. May be if the modernization is not mixed or confused with westernization then it would be a better place to jump in. But now, the other side of the wall wants to adopt western culture in the name of being modern and I might never fit in there. Problem is, the tradition side of the wall calls you, ‘avuthu vitta kaludai’ (the donkey that has been let loose) and the modern side of the wall calls you ‘pazham’ (someone old and cannot catch up with new ideas). Hmm.. I am an avuthu vitta pazham kaludai. Let me take a nap on the wall, this spot is warmer.
Thanks a lot for dropping by and reading my post. True that the boundaries set by people differ from person to person. What is modernism for one may not be for another and what is traditional for one may be too old fashioned for another. We are able to define our boundaries because we have walked much ahead of the boundaries set by the past generation and each one of us at some point feel, 'this is it I should not venture further away'. But the young generation seems to lack the ability to differentiate between modernisation and westernisation and it is alarming to see the speed at which they are venturing out without boundaries.. That is a concern..
Good post! Sometimes I feel it too. But overall I think I've found a good balance – most of the so-called expectations about modernism are wrong. Who expects sex to be a deciding factor if a guy/girl is right for us? Or who expects to meet people from various cultures by going to a pub and drinking? These are expectations grown due to Bollywood/Kollywood movies. My mantra has been 'Do what is comfortable for you and makes you happy, let the world decide if it is traditional or modern'.
Most issues you point out here come when people are not clear about their boundaries. In olden days, joint families worked because everyone thought about others in the family. Now, people think only about their immediate family or even worse, only themselves. So boundaries become more about a person than about a family. If someone decides to advice another person, they should also be ready to take up the other person's responsibility. Issues between in-laws and low familial tolerance are cases where people are ready to dole advice but can't take up the responsibility.
I don't wear my thaali every day but that doesn't make me less married! Everything is in the heart – if someone else wants to wear it every day and show it to the world and this makes her happy, so be it. I can't judge her for her actions in the same way she can't judge me for mine. That is true modernism, not drinking, smoking or casual sex.