December 14, 2012

A Nomadic Generation

I had been sitting in dark for over two hours now. It was weird to experience a power cut; Almost like remembering a faint childhood memory. With the rustling of leaves in the background, the only thought racing in my mind was, how did we live without online TV, till only a few years ago!
Suddenly, my room mate rushed in, drenched from head to toe, with his flashlight clinched tightly in his fist.

"Dude, we should evacuate."
"Yeah! Haven't you seen outside?"
"It's pitch black outside! I can't see a thing. And I was busy eating my cold, yet delicious, food, in the dark".
"There is an electric pole hanging on our apartment and our neighbor's wall has collapsed ! You really think we should still stay in?

Hanging pole. Collapsed wall. Stay in. Echo. 
He stressed on just the right words to wipe the smirk off my face, make me jump out of my bed and take a  peek outside.

The reality only sunk in then.
Hurricane Sandy had hit New Jersey, and this was going to be a long night.

The Aftermath

After a few more nerve wrecking moments of deafening silence, we talked about the emergency evacuation kit, important documents, options where we can go etc. We left soon with just a backpack each to a  friend's house for safety.

As I laid, in someone else's dark and cold living room, I couldn't help but think that how quickly and with so little stuff, could I leave my house. I had my passport, immigration documents, driving license, car keys, credit cards, and "my precious", laptop. I wasn't sad or upset about leaving what was supposed to be my "home", till a few minutes back. I was blank. No attachment, whatsoever! 
And I don't lead a monk's life. I am a self confessed shopaholic who has got a lot of stuff. But nothing seemed worth taking. Nothing gave me a mutual feeling of belonging.


I left with just a backpack, in my car. All I needed were my identity documents, some money and a mode of transportation. What does that make me? A nomad! Come to think of it, most people of my generation are leading similar lives. We change cities, countries and friends at the drop of a hat.

We didn't grow up like this. Most of us spent our entire childhood in just one or two houses. There used to be a rental house, to which our families held on to as long as they could, and then sometime in our early teens, we got our own house. It simply meant 2 things- that from that point on, we would have the same neighbors for life and that city would forever be referred to as our "hometown". Secondly, and more importantly, it taught us the difference between our home and  just a house. 

We all grew up with a generation willing to sacrifice careers and lifestyles for stability, a concept lost on this generation. Living in the moment has become the buzzword, not because its mandatory in today's time, but due to our sheer inability to see beyond a few years in future. We are blindfolded by ambition, money, power and lifestyle.
We still take pride in telling how big and close our families back home are. Yet, the thought of meeting our uncles, aunts and cousins never crosses our minds. And if we absolutely have to meet them, no stone is left unturned to make one point clear- that, because of our extremely busy (read: nomadic) lifestyles, we don't know when we would meet again! Farther is the new better! 

We have an illusion of forever being in touch. Facebook, Twitter, emails, Whats-app, what not! However, this is a disconnected and disillusioned generation which doesn't even have the concept of "forever", let alone, of  "forever in touch". One of the major reasons for the success of all the social media in the recent decade is because of this nomadic lifestyle where we are overcompensating at every step of our lives without as much having an inkling of it. We search for acquaintances in strangers, friends in work colleagues, cousins in friends and a mentor in bosses.

The previous generation had clarity and definitions for every relation. Siblings were different from cousins and neighbors  from uncles. Family was family, irrespective of the distances. Not to belittle any relation, but each one had its importance and position. We never saw our fathers turning to their friends in moments of either celebration or grief, before family. Now, we are one better job offer or even one cheaper apartment away from losing everything that, in this moment, we hold dearly. If Facebook didn't have the birthdays and anniversary reminders, we would have lost on the idea of wishing our so called near and dear ones as well.

India is undergoing a transition. From the clutches of socialism it has freed itself to become a free economy and slowly we are transitioning into a capitalistic society. Migration, for a better career or education, has become inevitable. If you are not away, you lag behind.
With the heftier pay checks and longer sedans, has come, a new societal framework. Our society is undergoing a paradigm shift. 

No kid will now have a creche-less childhood, homemaker mother, verandah cricket with father, intimate cousins and a very interesting love-hate relationships with grandparents. 

Sure, this lifestyle has made us more polite and better suited for the world, but it also has made us plastic and lonely. That's a big price to pay.

The hurricane didn't hurt me or damage my house. Trust me, all these thoughts are neither the result of a tree falling on my head, nor are they accentuated by the fact that I don't live in India! I happen to know a lot of people who feel the same way in a Bangalooru or a Pune or a Noida. That small incident made me realize how much my generation is losing in pursuit of our beloved lifestyle.

I still remain a shopaholic, materialistic and ambitious young man who lives on foreign shores for opportunity and dollar conversion rate! I can't give up all this, not at this juncture at least. I am on a journey with no destination in mind. But now, I do have the lingering thought of this life being over in a fleeting moment. However, even if I have realized about my nomadic existence, most of my generation hasn't. They may not savor the little mutual time we have, living in the moment, before we move on.

We are a rootless generation who wants to branch out regardless. One way or the other, we end up losing people on a continuous basis from our lives, racing towards a point of no return.

Wake up!


My previous posts punctuating related train of thoughts

सपना !
हम में आज भी कहीं एक बच्चा बसता है !

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