A privilege to criticize

the rich are loud and too quick to criticize and the poor too accepting and too grateful.

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It is the prerogative of the rich, elite, the intellectuals to criticize. Not us, commoners who toil in the sun for a living. It is a luxury that the poor women and men cannot afford. It is for those who have time to sip their tea, observe world happenings either on their tablet or their big TV screen and then not just break  into an impromptu debate with whichever company is available, but to also pen it down, post it on FB, get it inked in the Editorial columns of popular daily’s. I often feel envious when I make such observations,no, not criticisms but observations. That it is a privilege among the many privileges of the rich. I wish I was the one privileged; privileged so I can make a sharp critique of those who are rich. Well.

Coming back to understanding the privilege of criticising, well, firstly to be able to criticize something, one must know enough about the subject matter. And secondly,more importantly one must be aware that he or she knows enough and therefore an opinion independent and valid can be made. The working class/ the poor/ the subaltern unfortunately do not catch up on late night news on BBC or follow twitter. So their worry and information about the outside world is very , seriously limited.  In the vague chance that this matter is somehow relevant  to them and that they  have rich experience and wisdom therein in the subject matter, they still don’t know or aren’t aware that they have this knowledge or that one can assert its validity. The Rich, if you have noticed, are always confident. Their attitude is one of entitlement. Even with their half or no knowledge, they are pompous enough to speak with whatever they think they know and criticize.

Such a criticism doesnot limit itself to any scope. One, if you belong to the right social categories, can criticize everything from food to philosophy, fashion to foreign cultures. They have a say on everything. And they will have their say, because they are the liberated, freedom loving people; they have done what they have done and accumulated enough wealth to stand tall and challenge the political clout of others to offend them.

You see them aloud in cafes, in the long queues of the cinema hall, in the panel of the Newschannel Primetime shows, everywhere. They don’t shy away from anything. Because they are intellectual, they can say what they want to say.

On the other hand, one must pay keen attention to the behaviour of individuals from subaltern communities. Like my father, my uncle who is a farmer, my mother in law. They don’t speak very much. They are literate. They do read the papers. They have lived lives in all its vibrancy and gathered wisdom through these experiences. Yet they do not have so many opinions. Now, one can ask is this because they don’t know enough about the world or may be its a limitation of language. Perhaps both. Like I said, both the access and the language has always been so hegemonised by the elite intellectuals that even the wisest of the tribe would not (and they will ’empathize’ and tell you this) be good enough to criticize.

These people who work for a living, who have seen hardships, who have realised that the world is not black or white but grey have long before understood and accepted the complexity and the sophistication of life. They welcome their everydays with awe, wonder and hope rather than scepticism, sarcasm and criticism.

I believe, since we do not have access to that language of criticism, because let’s admit it we haven’t had any real power in our hands to claim such authority over matters, we go by life in simpler logic than others. If we really have a problem with something, if there is a problem of any nature, then we trust that it will be easily identifiable, be easy to articulate in our own limited native vocabulary. If you went through an experience with no apparent unpleasantness, then there was probably nothing to worry about, that this was fine.

It’s like this conversation over breakfast buffet that took place during my friend’s nephew’s naming ceremony. The ceremony was taking place in a temple. We (my partner and I) had reached earlier than the others and hence were invited to have breakfast. Simple, yummy south indian breakfast. As we began eating, my friend’s dad came around to greet us. We finished exchanging niceties. Looking to end the conversation and allowing him to move towards the other guests, I remarked saying it was a very nice breakfast. It indeed was. Lots of ghee on ravi idli and fresh chutney. My friend, his daughter, who was sitting beside me, immediately remarked saying the food was bad. She even threw the piece of idli aside on her plate to demostrate what she was saying. Wow, I thought. Why, it was so nice actually?! What blew me off was the snide response we got from her dad. He said “I’m glad you have such high standards!” He was grinning with (perhaps) pride when he said that.

I was disgusted. I thought it was audacious to have found fault in that food. May be the brahminical privileges of having had lot -more-than-enough food to eat was the culprit. Having come from family that had seen its share of poverty, I was brought upto be grateful for every meal I got, for every meal that someone else prepared for me. So I say , to criticize is a privilege. I do not have it. Some do.Daily Prompt: Criticize

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Prompt -Criticize

I had to run a search in my Gmail inbox to even remember the address of my blog. I think I will give this Daily Prompt a try, may be that will break my writer’s bloc ( or block…huh?). Anyways here I am writing it. The quick tips says I need to write something prompted by the daily word and then link it or something. I’m not even sure how to do that. As you read this, I can guess what’s probably going on your mind. Hmm…go on then, criticize. I could never become a blogger. This is such bad writing, you probably don’t know where to begin, even if you wanted to criticize it. Sorry. Oh god, I tried. And I want to keep trying to write. I know it doesn’t come easy to me. I don’t come from a place or family like that where people read or write really well. But I have criticized myself enough about everything. So I want to try writing, without any criticism stopping me.

This daily prompt thing works. 🙂 Daily Prompt: Criticize

Staying hungry, staying foolish

Stay Hungry, Stay foolish. I have often heard my  friends quote this phrase as their life motto. These words spoken by Steve Jobs in a speech to some college kids became really popular around the time he passed away. Well, I have always wondered what he meant by this. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and can guess from his context what he intended but these words can be read in so many ways, like the usual game words play with your mind.

I frequently find myself using this phrase in completely different ways. Pardon me if you are a moral duty bearer of the preservation of English language but this is how I make sense of it.

This happened a few days ago while I was standing in a queue at the bank. If you live in a city in India or have visited one recently, you will know of the ongoing fiasco on demonetization by our current government. Much is being spoken about it so I will spare you the details over here.  I was visiting the bank to collect my profile password that I had forgotten, the one crucial to  make online payments. While I stood, I noticed the long queue of customers waiting for their turn to exchange old notes, withdraw cash. The staff in the bank were under high stress and each staff was convinced that they needed to make this stress apparent in their behaviour with the customers. I frowned as I heard rude remarks, loud grumblings from the various counters. In the corner where the receipts and drop boxes are kept, stood a hefty looking man with a pen and notepad. Every now and then when someone finished their transaction, they would go to him, he would write something down on his pad and they left feeling accomplished. It did seem strange. The man stood with such air and suspicion at the same time. He caught me staring at him multiple times. I decided that it wasn’t a safe proposition to continue my curiosity so I dropped the matter there.

It was only much later I realized what was happening. With the new attempt to curb black money, hoarders like the Man I saw in the bank have been bribing slum dwellers and the urban poor to use their accounts and convert the illegit stash into legit money for them. So this man was clearly either himself very rich with black money or worked for someone who did. And hence one after the other, men, youngsters and women, mostly from the nearby slum ( if you lived in one place all your life,you can tell your neighbours from the crowd) exchanged money for them. I am not shocked by this arrangement. Not at all. Not even by the fact that the entire staff were oblivious to this.

What I was left with was the pathos that such a situation evokes: Like those men and burqa clad women I saw in the bank, the poor in India have remained a naive population. They are starved, robbed of hope and yet stay clueless of the brutal politics at play here. That life in today’s world is like a game of monopoly doesn’t seem to strike them. At what cost were those in the bank taking the risk to help the Rich bad guy ? Do they understand the consequences?  I fear if they do not get out of this bubble, this filmi understanding of world as black and white, this insane hope of divine intervention, if they do not learn to fight back and claim what is justly theirs, they will be staying hungry, staying foolish.

Staying hungry, staying foolish so far.

 

 

My new beginning

Hello All,

This is one of the many firsts I am beginning this month. Rather strange that one wants to begin in December when the rest of the world is winding up for the year, gearing up to celebrate the year gone by and simply holidaying so they can start afresh next year. But no, I am starting new things, kick starting indeed. And this is my way of remembering the bygones and celebrating all that life has brought for me so far.

So firstly, this blog will be anything everything I want it to be. I wish to just pen down everything that nags my mind and urges me to do something about it. All important thoughts, feelings, journeys will be captured here in a capsule to keep evidence with my personal her-story.

Eventually, I hope this will help me observe deeper, open up and share more meaningfully with the people around me and my Therapist. Yes, that was a new first as well this month. I am telling you December is a very New exciting  month  and I shall make sure it stays that way.

For anyone who reads this, I hope you are able to become my trusted listener and stay with me in this journey of learning to express.

Much love,

Wordswhim.