• Kitaabfarosh

Life in the Day of a Middle Class Aspiration

You have a house and you have a car and you are safe and you are driven. Everything seems okay to fit into the algorithm of your life when Apple strikes. Like Adam you fall. Like Newton you gravitate.

Our country is a crowd. The strike rate of a male gamete hitting upon the female gamete is accurate and well timed. It is in fact inversely proportional to the thought process that drove one Mr. Kejriwal walk out of the Dill Durbar. Ah, Delhi. Home to 14 million people, choreographing it in several directions. Nearly 9,294 human bodies perform its daily ritual of feeding, working, praying, fornicating, spying, sleeping, excreting, flirting and many such existential entrapments on a square kilometer of geographical space. That would simply mean a football field with 1161 players. A numerical onslaught on this beautiful game. Forget about the game. They will not even have enough space and courage to prick that nose, adjust that thong, twitch that groin or dig that ear. And in this giant reduction of space, the daily ritual of feeding, working, praying, fornicating, spying, sleeping, excreting and flirting and not necessarily in the same order are performed with scientific certainty and spiritual uncertainty. Delhi is one such football field.

Kings and merchants, preachers and followers, priests and idolaters, philosophers and beggars have time and again in CE and BCE solicited the city and made it their home, battle field and pulpit. Bravura of handsome deceit and kind cunning. And sometimes of selfish sedentary experience. The city in fact and history will not tell this, has received solipsistic arguments of explorers, conquerors and philosophers with murderous precision, giving the city its atmosphere of adventure, anger and anguish. Delhi is followed and led by history at the same time. For every page turned there is a page before. Every priapism of its growth is followed by a voyeurism of its ruins. Brushed with vanished orders of its conquerors and decorated with ethereal ego of its philosophers, the surface of Delhi embeds and exhibit survival and serendipity all at once. Hope finds itself resembling defeat and defeat camouflages itself in opportunities in this circular city nurturing vertical hopes. The new market is its most lethal incubator. It energizes the consumer and anaesthetizes the citizen. He asks for primary health care from government he voted for and gets a nod for health insurance from private players. He demands literacy and is shown the signs of neon lit, air conditioned, commercial hubs advertising education. He aspires for career and in turn is molded for a job. And rest as they say Warren Buffet’s bank account!

Keeping creativity comatose in its grave, highways running across different cities are abbreviated as NH. National Highway. Even an evolving zygote with mixed genitalia can separate N from H. Such is the assured nomenclature of the Governments across the world. Nothing is left to interpretation. State stands for overwhelming simplicity and commonplace. Governments across the world are not supposed to be creative. There is no imaginative protocol. Government is for real we are told and serious in its emotions. Government doesn’t laugh. It never smiles. It is concerned. It is wary. It orders and it issues. It cancels and postpones. It allows and rejects. It proposes and withdraws. It builds national highways and as one leaves Delhi and onto one such highway, satellite towns present their aspirations. An endless permutation combination of billboards, knowing your greed and smiling at your desires. They know your pockets aren’t deep enough, but what’s the harm in frisking. So when an over smiling cricketer, leaves his bat and offers you key to that beautiful home from that billboard- the humiliation leaves you truly homeless. But another billboard will offer hope. A failed superstar is guiding your stars and chaperoning you to the nearest bank. All you have to do is take money from the superstar and give it to the cricketer. The cricketer will then give you the keys which you will hand over to the superstar. You mortgage the same space which you aspire to live. Commerce can sometimes be ridiculously morbid. You have looked straight into the eye of that over smiling cricketer and snatched that key. Bravo. But billboards unlike grass are truly greener on the other side, albeit for the marketer. There is a deaf spot in every consumer. And here is where the producer has the loudest laugh. What have you achieved apart from the mortgaged roof over you? Well the size of your ego is photo shopped, your aspiration restored.

The billboards continue to haunt you.

Size is a physical quality of any element which has a very different impact on humans, consumers to be precise. It is deeply psychological and sometimes assumes pathological disorder between your earnings and spending. You earn less, you spend more. It’s like walking on top of gravity. And this magical concoction is achieved by the marketer next billboard. Here comes the SUV (uninitiated need not indulge further), full throttle and brakes at your neighbors doorsteps. You so wanted that invisibility cloak but unfortunately science has failed you. You look at your car and suddenly it looks like the lowest in the automobile food chain. Nature cannot be altered but market ecosystem has an inbuilt alchemy. It can change your car into well a bigger car. All you need to do is, look up and follow that billboard. The cricketer-superstar roles have changed but the same drama is being scripted. You still can’t hear that laughter behind the billboard.

You have a house and you have a car and you are safe and you are driven. Everything seems okay to fit into algorithm of your life when Apple strikes. Like Adam you fall. Like Newton you gravitate. An i for an i will make the whole world connected and smart. So you are told. And you accept and parrot it. Only your national anthem has so far beaten this instant acceptance. Market convincing requires simple and ordinary arguments: If You don’t Have an i-phone, You don’t Have an i-phone, Digitally Yours, Connecting People and many such bohemian expressions achieving numerically powerful consumer base.

We are a crowd and our collective silence is our past- colonial, big and incomplete. It is also our loudest expression, best demonstrated in the language of our desires, English. And it is this incompleteness which the middle class is trying to neutralize by being loudest. Overcoming the language anxiety cannot be a Roman project. So ‘natives of the country unite, you have nothing to lose but your desi accent’. Learn English in 30 days, seven days, 2 days, one day, six hour, few minutes, a second, and a few pico seconds. Time is running out and we have to catch up on a lot many billboards.

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