I love walking. I love walking fast, much to the annoyance of all my friends. I guess I walk fast because I’m trying to compensate for running. (I can however win an Olympic race, because once I start running, everyone competing with me will be on the ground, rolling with laughter). My issue with walking, however, is that I can walk from point A to point B. No matter how much the distance, as long as there is a need that will be fulfilled by reaching that point, I’ll walk. (Which actually also doesn’t let me stroll, again to the irritation of my friends.)
So to stay healthy, I keep telling myself that I should go for a brisk walk at least once a day. It happens every fortnight finally. I just came back from one and as I was on my way back, I was wondering how I can add purpose to the walk. I have a lovely golden labrador at home in India and thought to myself how it would be great to walk her on these wide footpaths. I am fortunate to live in a lovely part of London and just wished my dog was here to inspire me to walk. Then made a mental note to myself that whenever I go home, I shall walk her myself at least once every day. (And I mean walk, not taking her out to do her business.)
I love my dog to bits and started questioning myself as to why I don’t do it at home that often. Then it hit me – India has no sidewalks! Every inch of sidewalk that might have been planned by the government (higher chance that they left it by mistake and then pretended it was part of the plan) has been taken over by encroachments. Even service lanes in so many areas are simply lined with cars. To walk my dog, I have to walk on the road. Maybe the sidewalk “equivalent” perhaps – mud, dirty mud, with enough dog shit and rubbish already lying about.
This made me think, that India, as a society is deemed collectivist by nature. You know – ‘hum saath saath hai’ type families, kids living at home forever, the dire need to be accepted by the society. However, I think India is a very individualistic society. The collectivist culture is a facade that is put up, but at the core, it’s all about “I“.
Don’t think about sidewalks, where people can walk, think about extending my huge garden by just a few more inches.
“Oh but my flowers are so pretty, I’m sure this is social service by making the area look pretty.” Really?
Keep building metro/tubes in Delhi, but shall I walk on a rainbow to get there? Indians have also, unfortunately, earned the label of trying to make a fast buck. Also explains why Indians are so good at haggling because deep down inside, one knows that everybody is trying to take the other for a ride. So you try to outsmart them.
“Let’s fill up our news channel with a ridiculous amount of ads. Yes people tune in to watch the news but who can blame us, it is expensive to *make* news to maintain ratings.”
India can be the new land of opportunity. I don’t bother with Indian politics, don’t follow it or understand too much of it, but what I always do hope is for the current oldies, with their old reservations to kick it soon (as bad as that may sound) and allow the younger, educated and liberated generation to come in. Ofcourse Raj Thackeray doesn’t count in this, but I live in hope!
I feel if India would get rid of its collectivist nature and accept just how individualistic they are, it would be a better country. Atleast everyone then starts respecting each other, not prying in each others lives and most importantly, everyone knows that each man will only work for his own benefit and so, work bloody hard for your own! Let’s stop pretending it’s all about the society and the culture, because it’s really not! In India, 53% women between the ages of 15-19 think that it is alright to be hit by their husbands. If the society indeed is that collectivist, why aren’t these women comfortably talking about this and more importantly, why isn’t someone telling them they are out of their mind to think that way?