TIME WE GREW UP

After almost a fortnight of celebrations, I sat down to write my blog. Dussera and Diwali apart, we also had the most important annual event of our lives – the birthday of our mavourneen daughter. As I have mentioned in one of my previous blogs, we celebrate our daughter’s “monthly birthday” on the 29th of every month, but in October it is one massive jamboree!

For the past one month we had been asking Maahi to spell out what she wanted to do for her eleventh birthday, but she kept prevaricating. So we decided to throw a surprise by taking her for an overnight stay at her favourite five-star hotel. One of the main reasons she loves this hotel is because it has a small-sized pool, which is ideal for her to frolic around in (and does not tire her out when she swims across it). The other reason being her getting cossetted by the entire staff of this particular hotel. The previous evening, after picking her up from her friend’s birthday party, we asked her if she wanted to go for a drive – a long drive in the night is something that our daughter thoroughly enjoys – and she readily agreed. On the pretext of having coffee we sat with in the coffee-shop of the hotel. Somewhere close to midnight we took her to the suite room and on seeing our luggage, she looked at us with genuine astonishment – her delectation and look of surprise and wonder was priceless. Then at the stroke of midnight, the cake we had ordered was brought in and presents given to her. The next day she had unmitigated fun in the pool, and then enjoyed the sumptuous buffet lunch (the Chef even baked a special cake for her). And then the whole team from the hotel traipsed in to wish her. A big thank you to Punish and his team for transforming Maahi’s special day into a magical one! Like all modern parents, we spare no effort in creating a world that will always bring a smile to our daughter’s lips whenever she reminisces about her nonage in years to come. Birthday celebrations during our childhood were totally different. I rarely remember a few birthdays that I have celebrated while growing up. Birthday revelry (whenever there was one) for us usually meant inviting close family members over and partying with cousins.

I would not fault my parents for not having celebrated my birthday by throwing gala parties, as we lived in different times. Sadly, it’s not just birthday celebrations that have changed. Every generation sees dramatic changes in their cultural and social ethos, served to them by their progeny, which in most cases appalls the recipients. We have faced this while we grew up – many of the trends that we followed have horrified our parents, especially our sartorial sense and choice of music! I am sure our parents faced similar issues when they were growing up. The only difference today is that keeping pace with the rapidly changing technology, is becoming difficult for us. I believe that the advent of fairly innovative but mainly intrusive social media platforms has managed to effectively polarize people. Something that was once the domain of greedy politicians, is now achieved with the click of a button. I personally know of well-educated “armchair liberals” who point accusatory fingers at our current PM, blaming him for this polarized and “intolerant” state of the nation, conveniently forgetting decades of denigrating dynastic rule, and their own role in creating and nurturing this schism over the years, after our well-deserved independence from an equally vilifying British rule. People have now trampled the thin line separating healthy debates from rabid arguments, which has in turn given rise to the new cannibalistic species of trolls on such platforms. Ensconced in the comforts of their desks, secure behind the anonymity and firewalls of their computers, digital ogres from both sides hurl barbs and insults at the other group – these are fiends who believe that attack is not just the best, but the only form of defense. The press, fed on decades of mollycoddling by condescending regimes, willfully instigating both sides, while superciliously laughing all the way to the bank.

Maybe not the whole nation, but the so-called silent minority can surely make a difference. Are we not mature enough to take an educated decision on the irrelevant sensationalism, biased religiosity or faux secularism that is thrown at us in the form of news? Sure, raise your voice when you see injustice being meted out, but not when escaped terrorists are killed! Why do we play repulsive politics over the unfortunate suicide of an ex-serviceman? Why do we shirk association with “other” religions and communities, while conveniently overlooking the fallacies of our own? Why do the wants of our religion come before the needs of our nation? Why do we forget what Anton Chekov said – Everyone has the same God, only people differ? Fortunately, I see a lot of hope in our children, who are totally impervious to such prejudices. But as parents, let us not fill their impressionable minds with bigotry and xenophobia – let us just fill them with love and concentrate on making them the apotheosis of human beings…

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