Life in a Wannabe Metro
I am going to take this opportunity to whine a bit, once, for leaving a ‘glamourous job with a brand’ about 3.5 years back. Now I am not going to dwell on the reasoning and rationale that prompted the decision (and what happened thereafter). If I do, it’s going to be excruciatingly boring even for my own consumption. Not that I always regret, but there are times when I do wish I had stuck around and fought it out.
I can’t help but feel those pangs of regret, a little too frequently these days. More than the Office being small, it is perhaps the ‘smallness’ of the city that is to blame for this heightened feeling. By saying this, I don’t mean to condescend.
Now that I am in a Tier II city trying very hard to be a ‘Metro’, it seems even a BPO crowd – which to me epitomized the shallowest illusion of a so-called Modern India – in a cosmopolitan has more depth, than a presumably better educated and erudite work force in this city. Like I said, I don’t mean to demean or be condescending but the smallest of things are pointers of how different a culture and background I belong to, even if I leave aside food habits.
As for taking office as the reference, well, that is where you get a more or less holistic first (and even subsequent) impression of a city as a resident and not a tourist.
People don’t get jokes and references that you assume to be ‘mainstream’. They are woefully ill-informed and are not quite receptive if you try and correct them, something I realised rather soon. Now I am not saying you won’t find such asses in cosmopolitan cities, but they are the aberration not the rule. Coming back to Jaipur, they resist ideas and prefer staying blissfully ignorant.
Subtlety doesn’t exist in their vocab. For instance, they can’t appreciate the thrill and romanticism of exploring a rundown fort. All they see is a ‘khandahar’. And they think they are being extremely knowledgeable for letting you know that ‘Udaipur mast jagah hai’.
And yet most of the people speak grammatically correct – albeit a tad bit accented – English; are engineers (some from IIT) MBAs, and CAs or at the least graduates by qualification. Most are from in and around Jaipur. The few who aren’t, are not too different from the locals. So far, I have only been able to strike up a semblance of a conversation with a young IITian simply because he is a Westernized young chap from a cosmopolitan city.
None of this would have mattered, if you are not actively looking for people to hang out with (and we definitely aren’t). But it does matter when the rigidity, ignorance, and stupidity start affecting your work. They manifest on to the workplace and often I feel restrained and unable to put forth ideas I find valid and worth applying.
Which now brings me to the moot point point of this post. And I must make another reference here: Iran before the revolution in 1979. The Shahs were all for ‘modernisation’. The ‘Modern Iranian Family’ was a splitting image of their American counterparts. The Iran of the early 20th century was not much different from the USA during that era, at least not on the surface.
“In the early 20th century, Iranian leaders banned the hijab which, while giving the illusion of “liberation” to women, still was a form of male control over a woman’s decision making. As the 20th century progressed and became one whose culture was defined mainly by the West, Iranian fashion began to echo those very trends. The Iranian cabinet also decreed in 1928 that all male Persians dress in Western style, which meant the prohibition of traditional headgear. Those who didn’t were liable to be fined or detained.” ~ Excerpt from an Article
I can’t help but liken the situation in Jaipur (and presumably other Tier II Indian cities)- which look modernised and urban on the surface – to the Iran I cited above, at least in some measure. Where is the spirit of modernisation? Where is the urge to learn and grow. Are malls, flats, and fancy cars the only signs of development and progress? And if you must ape Metros, start with the sense of humour, not metros literally!