Reversal Of Roles.

This post has been inspired by my sister Padmini sending me this image with the peremptory comment – “For your blog”. Yes Madam, anything to oblige!  Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

One of life’s inevitabilities is the fact that once one grows old, his identity takes the back seat to his offspring. For instance, I now have to be introuduced as either my son’s father or my daughter in love’s father in law. I have also had the odd experience of being introduced as Chutki’s grand parent! Chutki incidentally, is our dog. I rarely drive any more and depend on my son or daughter in love to drive me around. It seems not so long ago that I drove them around! There was also the time that I used to say that my son lived with me whereas now, I unashamedly say that I live with my son and daughter in love.

That preamble may sound a bit odd for my Western readers but, for Indians, the change over from joint families to unitary families is still a work in progress and apart from the sheer logistics aspect of inability to stay in the same place where the parents live, for career reasons, there is also a great shift in values where young people want to live their own lives without the elders constantly poking their noses into the affairs of the youngsters.

There is however a caveat. Many of the senior citizens that I know here with children in the West, are still in great demand as post natal nurses, housekeepers and baby sitters. They keep going up and down till the grand children grow up and after that the goings more or less stop. While there, there is nothing but total boredom for them but, they do their duty as parents and grand parents and return usually to big sighs of relief.

Recently, I had been discussing with some fellow seniors as to how roles have reversed vis a vis with our children and younger siblings. From our looking after them during their childhood, it is time for us to be looked after by them and, hold your breath, ordered around too! Two things firmed up my views on this recently. The first incident was the very first paragraph of this post and the next follows.

I had to attend a reunion with some ex colleagues by driving over 130 Kms up and down and though I was looking forward to the meeting itself, I was down with a viral infection and felt that I will be incapable of a comfortable journey to and fro. My daughter in law hearing me think aloud about not going simply said, “Nothing doing. You will get up, have breakfast and go. No cancelling the long awaited meeting.” And that is what I did. What motivation! I enjoyed the meeting though the drive back was quite tiring and longer than the way up due to traffic snarls.

I actually enjoy the reversal of roles. What do you think?

Is Liberalism Dead?

Let me straight away confess that this topic for today’s 2 on 1 Friday posts by Shackman and me has been inspired by a remarkable book by Rudrangshu Mukherjee, “Twilight Falls On Liberalism”. It is a concise book which one can easily finish reading in one sitting if one is not distracted by domestic chores etc. In fact, as one starts reading it, one wishes that there will be no distractions.

RM looks at the issue of liberalism from the point of view of a historian and despite being in opposite ideological camps, I found his writing interesting though I don’t agree to some of the conclusions that he comes to about India. His choice of a message on the cover of the book – “Bigotry nurtured by a political ideology has made people, as it always does, blind and intolerant” clearly places him on the Liberal side! And, by inference, since I point that out, me, on the illiberal side.

The word “Liberal” means different things to different people but, in India is used mostly by people who have studied in the English Medium stream, still heavily under what we call Macaulayism. This self called elite, derisively called the Elite Liberal Intellectual Mafia (ELIMs) by lesser mortals, live mostly in cities and have no clue about the culture and value system of the vast majority of Indians who live in semi urban and rural areas of India. These vast majority march to completely different drum beats and the so called Liberals here do not understand that rhythm or value system. They exchange their views in the English media and condemn the populace who elects others perceived to be illiberals by their standards. So, if you were to read Indian newspapers in English, you will find words like majoritarianism, nationalism, patriotism, communalism, bigotry etc which mean different things to the English speaking minuscule minority and different and positive emotions for the vast majority of Indians.

John Stuart Mill put it well: “It is hardly possible to overrate the value … of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.” The problem with the Liberals of today is that they think that all the others who do not think like themselves are illiberal and are not worth the bother.  The others on the other hand, are not even aware of the existence of the so called liberal thought and how it tries to become the deep state.

It is this dichotomy that Rudrangshu Mukherjee has sensed and used to juxtapose to a global trend and comes to the conclusion that Liberalism is in its twilight days. I agree entirely with him on his conclusion but, am disappointed that he has not suggested a liberal solution to what he considers to be the problem.  I wish that I  could but, accept that I cannot and just be happy that I understand why Liberalism is in its twilight years and leave it at that.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same subject. I am willing to bet that he will be, for one of those rare occasions, on a very different wave length than mine.

Horoscopes 2.

After I finished off with my post Horoscopes, it occurred to me that I should write one observation that would be applicable to all. I was spared the effort when I was given this as a reading for me on answering a quiz. Just look how clever the content writer is! I can’t think of anybody who would not be pleased with this observation!

“Your life hasn’t always been simple, and you obviously have quite a few skeletons in your closet, but you never let these things stop you. Your past difficulties are what made you who you are today, they built you and they represent a significant part of your personality. Although it was easier to escape and not to cope, you chose to stay and overcome all obstacles and learned a great deal during your life journey. Deep down you know that standing face to face with your inner demons, and overcoming them is the way to a better future.”