Google+ Consumer Psyche: In Dependence Day

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Dependence Day

"Manmohan Singh! Manmohan Singh! Manmohan Singh!"

Sid's voice rings out from the corridor. I venture out to see what that is and he is dribbling a basket ball while chanting PM's name. Amused, I ask him does he know who Manmohan Singh is and he answers right. I am happy and then he shocks me when he says he is the first prime minister of India and goes back to his dribbling and chanting with a sinful glee.

I step out and start driving. Kids, small ones, with torn clothes come and knock at the glass on my window, hands holding several flags of all shapes and sizes. Wrist bands with the tricolor, hairbands and what not.

I move on and come to a joint where Rajkumar and Rajinikanth are fighting for supremacy showing off their pride and valor. These are two auto stands, named after their super stars, opposite to each other and with loudspeakers blaring from the background, faces painted as if they are witnessing a cricket match, they dance to popular Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Marathi songs. I couldn't make out which language the other songs are in as the sound is too high and the beat is too loud.

Vande mataram!

The time is 7 AM and I just step out of my house to pick up a friend before heading to Barista for work! An old lady stops me right in the tracks. She is holding a small boy for support and they have a stool on the side of the road selling flags, mostly of cotton and plastic paper. I look at the kid. He is shivering in cold and has no slippers on his feet. I lower my windows and park. It is damn cold outside(in Bangalore) and step out. He looks up to me and offers me few flags.

"Vande mataram anna, pileaseee anna, yeradu togoli!" I ruffle his hair and take out tape from the car and start sticking the flags on my car. The kid gets friendly and helps me with the tape. He has a sister, a younger one, at home and has to go play with her today. No work for parents today as it is independence day. Both his parents are construction workers and work everyday to keep their little mouths munching. He has been given 50 rupees to buy these flags his dad picked up and sent his granny along for supervision. I know how to count he proudly tells me and when I asked why he greeted me with Vandemataram, he smile back. So how much is he planning to earn today from these goodies? "150 rupees! anna." Then I will go and play in the ground with Gowri. We are getting payasam from the temple nearby. I finish my decorating and pay the kid the amount he is targeting and tell him to shoot. He goes to his grand mother, shows her the money. She lifts her hands in a traditional namaste and unlike what I expected she pockets the money in a pouch and shoves it down her vaisti. The kid starts cribbing and she hushes him down. I intervene and makes sure she gives him the money back and send him off, leaving the lady to sell.

A posh apartment complex where I heard Manmohan Singh chants in the corridor, is getting ready for a morning saga. I see the music system, key boards, tables being set for a party. Members only. All kids come down for the 0845 party and are in the swing. All aunties are setting up stalls with home made delicacies being sold at exorbitant prices and the proceeds supposedly goes to the poor!?

I am all but home when I see a rush of people who slowly and resistantly fall in to a line. I see a sumo being unloaded at the beginning of the line and free food being distributed by some party. Lot of pushing and hurtling ensues and some emerge victorious with food packets. Good at least one politician felt the need to feed few street urchins today.

Barista is unusually crowded today. A new to-be-couple sits across my table right now. Parents at both sides howering when the girl and boy meet. The scene is quite interesting. Barista, some loud uncomprehending music is playing in the back ground. The girl and boy are made to sit side by side. Parents get past their pleasantries in no time and are already bonding. The girl's father(or someone like that), wearing a Bosch tee keeps shooting questions intermittently at the boy about Texas, Tech Mahindra and recession, where he stays, what he eats and things like that. The discussions drifts from there to some relative he knows who stays nearby and the poor chaps pleads ignorance of the same. The girl is fully dressed, literally, in her traditional best, from bindi to a full-sleved white zari-edged cotton dress. No words exchanged! A lot of silence between the two and the guy steps out whipping his blackberry. The girl is slumped in a chair and the parents almost behave as if the match is pukka. The figure they cut is sorry. The girl's dad? pays the bill and they are off. Wasn't I talking about independence?

Bang! The chap and his mom are back with someone else. This time the girl is accompanied by her brother? and is too chattery. The chap's mom is back to ordering stuff again. Dressed in a tee and jean, the girl strikes instant conversation with the chap and his mom. Food is the topic and the mom is basking in all glory. Boy! I can stay all day here and see how they behave!

Back to Sid. He just entered UKG and hence I chose not to discuss the order of the PM with him.The kid on the road has better things than who the PM is to worry about and hence no point. The kids selling flags at the traffic signal, have no reason to remember who the 1st PM is and what independence means to them is that the goodies they sell have just changed color.

For far too many it doesn't matter as they are blissfully asleep enjoying the freedom. For those few it matters, it trickles down to the question of existence. Where is the freedom? We are still in dependence. Ain't you? Teach your kids and younger ones what independence is and how it was earned. What is the pride in being an Indian if you don't know the value of one?

The track at Barista changes to Madonna. I will Die Another Day.

You guys go ahead and have a nice day. Can you make someone smile today? Someone eat his first full meal of the month?
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