Don’t be fooled by the image that forms the theme of this post. That is a glimpse of what Spring looks like in London. It’s the normative, western and romanticised version of Spring. A concept as foreign as that image is to India. I landed in India and was welcomed by what felt like the air emitted by the air conditioner’s fan. It would be blasphemy to call this Spring, it’s summer. There is no doubt about this.
Home feels good, while the heat is of course a rude awakening, it still feels like mine. What can I say this is just more familiar to me than the cold. Always been a Summer girl. Now I feel like I can keep the windows open and there is something more interesting than grey brick to see outside. I see my neighbour’s mango tree in the true spirit of summer, hanging from the branches are baby mangoes looking green and cute.
I guess there’s little on my shoulders to carry this year, no big decisions, no time limits that seem earth-shattering. This is good for my anxiety. Work’s always there but now I don’t hear the ticking of the clock like background music. I am not checking my clock every few minutes. It’s different.
This gives me time to think, and as I think I am taken back to incomplete conversations with myself. It allows me think of doing something for others rather than myself, which feels good. The gap year I am not going to lie was about me and the second term at university was also about me. Now I can think about the world, truly think about it.
I won’t lie, I am pretty sure I won’t change the world. Looking at the news, how CNN was doing a report on politicians swearing and Indian news telling me that in the prelude to the elections some politicians are roaming around holding a ceiling fans in their hands. I want to turn the news off before I throw the remote at the screen. Now I get why people are so angry all the time, they’re listening to this nonsense and then it’s so hot that whatever little patience you have has evaporated.
I’ll be voting for the first time this year, and honestly I feel like it will be wasted. I am not one to shy away from speaking my mind and taking a stand, but what do you do when the options in front of you are equally repulsive? It reminds me of Vikram Seth’s intriguing poem, ‘The Tale of Melon City’.
This happened years and years ago.‘The Tale of Melon City’ by Vikram Seth
When now you ask the people, ‘So —
Your King appears to be a melon.
How did this happen?’, they say, ‘Well, on
Account of customary choice.
If His Majesty rejoice
In being a melon, that’s OK
With us, for who are we to say
What he should be as long as he
Leaves us in Peace and Liberty?’
The principles of laissez faire
Seem to be well-established there.
That is just a part of the poem there’s a whole story to how the melon becomes the King but these are my favourite stanzas. I urge you to read it if you like poetry. But right now politics seems like this, I’d rather have a melon for a PM. Now, I know this warrants some outrage, but I can’t lie.
Over the years from 2014 when I had just graduated from high school and the previous Indian election, my standards for politicians have been lowered. Now, if a politician doesn’t have a fake degree, criminal charges and pays his taxes it will do. Even those seem like high expectations. Can you remember a time when politics wasn’t dirty? Does anybody recall such a time? My three years of studying History taught me that there wasn’t, I would love to be told I am wrong.
When people get into political debates with me now I don’t even try. They bring their citations with them, Twitter debates, YouTube videos, rumours and WhatsApp forwards. I shut my ears, because I am saving my breath. Is there any point? I use Google as a news source when I am lazy, and today morning I saw another article on the elections but it was below the main article – PewDiePie versus T-Series. For Netizens who are not familiar with the ongoing battle I suggest you familiarise yourself.
What started of as a joke turned into a heated battle between an individual and corporation, dirt has been thrown, loyalties have been betrayed and ‘nationalism’ has come into question. When I read that PewDiePie took it to the extent of roasting India referring to the caste system and India’s poverty that’s when I put my phone away. I find it ridiculous that a whole country could be an extension of T-series, which is just one corporation making money.
The height of pettiness is remarkable. What have political debates been reduced to? As much as it is ridiculous it’s scary. So when I think about processes and issues larger than me I find no answer. I am discouraged, sticking to research papers and academics sheilds me from the mess happening on the ground. But I know that the comfort is a temporary relief. Some day you’re thrown into reality, even if you decide to work at universities.
You still have to walk on the streets and as a woman that’s sometimes scary for me. The classroom allows me to be a feminist, outside of it I am just another woman. Theory means nothing on a crowded bus when someone decides nobody will notice if they purposely rub up against you. Theory means nothing when you decide to wear pants instead of shorts when you go out.
I realised I have been asking through my education why is there a gap between the haves and have-nots, but it means nothing when I walk into a mall to buy myself something and quickly look away when I see a beggar. I can recall debating civic sense, but I’ve done nothing when I see bikers riding on footpaths, except if they come in my way and even then all I do is glare. Politicians won’t address these issues and neither will we.
Somehow it doesn’t surprise me and I am sure I should embrace the age. But, there’s a part of me, that part which sits with a pen in her hand, who sees pain and stands up for it, who relentlessly argued in debates, who would speak up. This world has a way of silencing us, unbeknownst to us. We keep asking the media for “real” issues. And yet we like the madness, we want the “lighter” stuff.
I thought some day I would change perspectives, open people’s eyes. Now I am searching frantically for something that will open mine. That’s why we filter it out right? Yet, it’s only the rumours that reach our ears. I will stand in the voter’s line, and press a button. I feel like it’s not a choice really. When has it ever been? Will the ink on my finger mean something?
This election makes me nervous, especially the social media hatred, the disinterest and this comical spiral of news on irrelevant issues. Is this the start of something new or just another old trick in the book? Where are the melons when you need them?