10 reasons why I like being middle class!

People often lament how things are really bad for the middle class. They may only be a scratch better economically than the lower class but they have to pretend a lot to keep up the façade. The middle-class is like the silver-medal winner, who does not have the ‘at least I won something’ feeling of the bronze winner, neither the elation of the gold winner. There is the other side that says that the middle class move the economy, and its often what we demand that makes itself available, but isn’t our demand decided by the trends of the upper class?

Amongst all these macro explanations, I have some micro ones, titbits of my experiences, observations and thoughts, that convince me why I’d rather be middle class than anything else.

1. We are equally adept in a mall as well as a bazaar

Being middle-class, we know where to bargain, but we also know where to be sophisticated. We can enjoy the panipuri as much as the pasta or pizza. We love kurtas just as much dresses. I think this expands the range of our experiences, and gives us a realistic picture of the world, where we know both affluence and austerity.

2. We crowd book sales

Not to be biased, but for the poor to be at book sales, they need to be able to read, which they cannot because of our bad literacy rates. Further, the rich can afford books directly off expensive book shop chains or from the authors themselves. therefore, all the book-sales and other such literary clearance events are often crowded by the middle class.

3. We are spread over a vast area of careers

There is the ambitious middle-class youth doing their b.tech plus MBAs, steadily wanting to rise and merge into the upper class. While there also the other half who either leave plush jobs or start the career itself in some service or help sector, by working in an ngo or other such organizations. Why can they take the risk of leaving that job and taking to a lower-income-higher-satisfaction one? One reason is that they have seen the suffering of the disadvantaged close at hand, maybe they themselves were so, some time in the past. But more importantly, we do not have a high upper-class standard of living that we constantly need to maintain with a high income. That removes a lot of pressure from our shoulders, thus making it easier to choose alternative occupations.

4. We are the pioneers of change

The rich are usually too comfortable to bring about change, and the poor too ill-equipped to do so. Therefore, it is the middle class who would become entrepreneurs, lawyers, activists, leaders. We also happen to pay taxes and vote. Not only do we believe in change, we actually work for it. We do the work that the government is supposed to do, in the hope that they will be shamed into doing it. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t.

5. Our values bring us together

Often, our values are very strong and we bide by them. these values make good homes to go back to, after a hard day’s work. These values also make us feel for other people like us, and immediately stand up in revolt if those people are hurt. We do most organized protestations.

6. Most products are designed with us in mind

Barring a few exceptional elite products, most are targeted at the middle class, with the sasta aur tikau motto. Thus, ‘mileage kitna deti hai?’ can become a tagline for an automobile, just like the indespenisble and cheap vicco turmeric can become a household product.

7. We love to chat, about the main and the mundane – 

We are constantly talking, in newspapers, on tv, over chai, over coffee, on blogs (look at me!), it maybe arguing against the status quo, or simply a plea for help, or just saying what’s on our mind. All twitter celebs happen to connect with the masses because they lead a middle-class existence just like the masses who can afford phones and access twitter.

8. We like a blend of the old and the new –

We have bachelor parties, but we also have our haldis, mehendis and sangeets. We enjoy puranpoli just as much as pasta. We enjoy old songs as much as the new ones. We enjoy Bollywood music as much as the Beatles. As a class, we keep both new and old, eastern and western traditions and tastes alive. We are the enlightened folks who started the kurta and jeans combo, and a sari-adorning metal-head woman is from among us.

9. We know how to crack a good deal – 

I think you can’t survive as a middle class person if you can’t crack the best deal for yourself. This often extends beyond the finances. We have a knack for choosing that which would maintain our standard, yet we would go a mile further, one more shop, one more relationship, to make sure we get the perfect match, the perfect deal.

10  We have learnt to stay in unity –

Neither do we have the seclusion of the rich, nor the ghettos of the poor. The middle-class Hindu family has to stay next to a middle-class Muslim family, because there isn’t much choice. With time, the awkwardness and the stereotypes break and the kids start to play with each other. With time, it becomes difficult to say which is the Muslim kid and which is the Hindu kid. The kids teach us an important lesson then, and we learn too, because we are the (comparatively) open-minded middle class.

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Let your unconscious decide.

Quite often, we are hassling over decisions, when the solution seems to occur and we realize that it was ‘within’ us all this while. Only, we happened to clear the clutter so we can see things clearly. I don’t know who apart from Freud and other neo-Freudians would support me, but ever since reading this book called ‘Subliminal’ by Leonard Mlodinow, I am all the more convinced that our unconscious holds more answers than we are willing to give credit to it. Maybe we are reluctant to accept it because the mysteriousness scares us. Within ourselves is something deciding for us, and yet we are not aware of how or why.

If all that seems too much of a jargon, I’ll give a simple example, that I suggested as a tip to someone a few days ago. The person in question wanted to unclutter his PC desktop, and did not know what to delete and what not to. I suggested that he put everything in the recycle bin, and retrieve only what he felt the need of the most, in a couple of days. I know this is not so deep into the unconscious, but it helped him look through the layers of ‘this is a good app’ or ‘this reminder will be useful’, down to the things that he truly needs.

So why does this happen? What I think is, that we are bombarded with suggestions daily, in fact, every minute. So instead of adhering to things and habits that we need, we adhere to those we ‘think’ we need as well. The result? We end up having loads of acquaintances, but few friends; No time for exercise, but always one for a swig or a puff; no time to read blogs or other useful things on the net, but all the time in the world for Facebook/Twitter etc. I’m not saying that social networking or knowing people is bad, but we have forgotten our priorities.

What should be our primary concerns, tend to be the least ones, and therefore, is it a wonder that we always seem to be at odds with ourselves? Our inner selves are revolting for some time for themselves, some peace, some priority, and less clutter.

So, the next time you want to know whether you *really* like someone, or whether you should keep doing the current unsatisfactory job, let your unconscious decide. Try not to force this inner voice with what you ‘think’ should be the right choice or course. This voice will tell you the right answer, even though it may be hard to take sometimes.

With time, when you are one with this voice, you will be at peace. For atheists, the voice is the unconscious, the smarter self within our selves, that understands more than we do consciously. For Believers and agnostics, maybe it’s the universal under-current/God trying to guide us. Who knows?

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India : Forever the plundered.

The case of the moving bus gang-rape victim is all over the papers, I need not repeat it. But is this case only about a girl who got raped? Or its about a societal attitude that has cropped up in the most extreme forms?

Following the news, my parents (like many of my friends’ parents), have been stringent with where I go and what time I get back, among other restrictions. They are obviously trying to keep me safe, but in doing so, they are reinforcing the very notion that is wrong: Women are vulnerable, and need to be protected, that the outside world is not their place, and that if they go there, they will always carry a risk.

But its not only my parents that are wrong, many other agents in the society are. Death penalty, castration demands, fast-track courts, outrage – all are required. But they aren’t the solution to the problem. They are like the bucket you keep under a water leakage till you can get a plumber to fix it.

But this is what we do – we never get the plumber, and when the bucket overflows, we don’t replace or empty it either. Our outrage, like that of the past, will die within a couple of months, like it did with the Kenan and Reuben case, among many others. Besides, our outrage is shade racist. We don’t care much for women raped in Kashmir, for example. This woman, was raped twice. After the gangrape, she was raped in police custody because her brother joined militants. http://www.kashmirdispatch.com/sameer-bhat/211210446-shabnam-the-woman-who-was-raped-twice.htm . For the extended article, see – http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2012/Dec/23/kashmir-joins-delhi-gang-rape-protests-albeit-with-a-suffix-37.asp . Here, we are implying 2 things – that even the women of those regions who contribute to the economy of the nation are not safe, and backward in their views towards women, as backwards as remote areas, and second, that only people in such privileged areas are important, that only these’ peoples rights will be fought for, and that only the voice of the metros matters.

Besides the way we outrage, even the way we grow up is wrong. This two articles in The Hindu say what I want to say, rather well – http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/rape-and-the-crisis-of-indian-masculinity/article4214267.ece , http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/time-to-be-ashamed/article4214334.ece .

The basic idea of these two articles, is that most rapes are those where young males encroach upon the modesty and freedom of women who are just trying to work and carry on their daily life. But, somewhere, there is resentment. They have grown up having more importance than their wives and sisters at home, and they can’t digest it when these same weak women, take up jobs that should be theirs, and earn prestige they aren’t entitled to.

It is not only the young unemployed youth who have this mindset. In minor rape cases, constables often escort young boys and girls to hospital wards for medical examination, loudly claiming that ‘iska rape hua hai. Check karo’, apparently having no idea how it will traumatize the child.

It takes no genius to realize that he needs to be sensitive. But, he is just one of the faces among many. The many who feel that anyone who is weak can be exploited, and blamed. As if somewhere, he felt that it was the child’s fault that he was raped. (Or that he reported the crime? God knows)

We already know of cases where men working in the lower rungs of law enforcement themselves are wife-beaters, tribal officers themselves rape young tribal girls. In these, and many other cases, there is double or more than double victimization.

And this is not just the remote places that I’m talking of. Everyday, in each home in the city even, subtle sexism still exists. Maybe they do it because they feel they are protecting their daughters, but in truth they are not. They are getting them accustomed to the ways of society, but of such a rotten society, that it needs to be changed. Girls shouldn’t be asked to stop going out, but be equipped to be safe wherever they go out. And this is only  a temporary solution – in long term – such measures should not be required – the society should be THAT SAFE.

People will tell me that what I say here is very idealistic, and that fast-track courts are a much more practical idea. Yes, they are a brilliant idea, to handle the level of problems that we have reached. But eventually, you will need to go to the root of the issue and treat it. And that lies in changing how the men and the women of the nation think.

India has been forever a plundered land. Be it by outsiders, or by those within. That needs to change. Not because women work, or contribute to GDP, or give birth to children, or are your wives or sisters, but because they are human and there is no other justification required.

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(Photo contributed by @AdamFredie on Twitter)

Busy-ness is bliss?

This post happens about 20 days later after the last one. I’m actually surprised the gap isn’t wider, for Third Year or Majors year has completely taken over my time!

I had taken up a freelance writing job, but had to leave it because I could not manage it all. My academics include anew psychological experiment every two weeks (and believe me, the two weeks are not enough to prepare!), group calculations of these findings, making notes, studying, conducting research, submitting project proposals (that will eventually culminate into projects, hopefully!), attending lectures, and lastly, travelling to and fro to college! What? It takes up quite some time, the travelling. Besides, it’s tiring.

So, my 10k per month job went down the drain. But, not only that, I have to make other sacrifices too! I hardly paint these days and the ink in my calligraphy pens has dried due to lack of use. The blog receives less attention. In fact, so does social networking in general. Except Twitter, because it is convenient to access on the move.

And being social with anyone except those in college has taken a back seat. I really hope my friends outside college will understand.

But then, would I be comfortable not working so hard in an important academic year? I have chosen to study something I love and dedication is probably not questioned on those grounds. But I have to deal with a lot of people these days, whose general level of pea-brain-ness appals and disappoints me. Besides that is the fact that, perhaps I need better time management.

Also, not all is lost. For example, even though slowly, I did complete the painting for my room, “The Royal Escape“. I am also able to try some new fonts each weekend.

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Another good thing that’s happening these days is that I’m catching up on my reading. In trains or during meals, it’s easier to read a book as compared to my other hobbies. Since I haven’t gotten time to update my playlist, music is a second priority now (I still have 818 unassorted tracks on the phone though 😀 )

And lastly, I do get new insight regarding psychology each day. I will have a career in this field someday, and this is definitely a start. Besides, this hectic year will be over before I know it. And there is also the College trip to Kashmir. Maybe I will enjoy it all the more because of the being busy for so long? Who knows, maybe busy-ness is bliss!?

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Romantically Speaking.

Is there a young lady or gentleman you know of, hardly out of their teens, but have died at least ten times due to heart break?

Of course you do.. they are friggin’ everywhere!

On twitter, on facebook, or whatever social network, you name it, their there… there and brooding, about how they curse their heart and hope to die.

Why?

A girlfriend or boyfriend of one month or maximum two, has ditched them. Tragedyyyyy! Isn’t it?

You don’t think so? Oh, but please, you’ll break their already-hundred-times-broken-and-stuck-together-with-cheap-tape-heart!

This seems like the pits, but there is actually something worse.

The “in-love” teens, as hard to believe as that is, they are more annoying than the heart broken ones!

At least, the heart broken ones brood in a corner, these people, they will scream, “I AM IN LOOUVVEE, MY BOYFRIEND LOOKS GOOD IN PICTURES AND BUYS ME LUNCH SO HE IS PERFECT!!!” right in your ears.

Oh yes, and they don’t spell like that, its more on the lines of  ” i m in luv, ma byfrnd…” oh chuck it!

And accompanying the gloom or the overbearing joy are the photos. Photoshopped pics of the “couple” with or without the crack in between depending on the state of their hearts.

And the sad part is, most of these people don’t know real love or real heart break. Ask them something about their partner that is slightly beyond the obvious, and they’ll look at you as if you asked for a derivation in trigonometry.

I have a strong feeling this is the result of our films and our media. Or maybe these people are just losers. Who knows.

Hundreds of people killed in blasts and earthquakes and what not, but,

yuss yuss, its infinitely tragic that the boyfriend does nor care about the girlfriend’s broken nail.

There shall be 20 tweets, 10 status updates, 1 blog and 2 poems about it.

Just wait and watch. The dunk heads. Er.. insensitive much?