Tuesday, February 13, 2007

East is the new "West"?

Five years ago, everything "Western" was (and still is) bad in Kerala! And "West" included faraway countries like America, Canada, UK, Brazil and the likes. The picture the media in Kerala, which I guess reflects the mentality of the people and what they like to read, gave any corruptible youth in Kerala (oh yeah they are so corruptible in Kerala, especially after their training in school and college for politicking and staging strikes) the impression that in the "West" people were all loose and without morals; and we are the only sane, moral and decent people in this world. They called this farce the "Conservative Keralite" (CK).

The CK, most realistic people know, is largely non-existent. I emphasize "largely", as there are still a lot of good decent realistic people, who are not necessarily the CK type. I really cant understand why this CK form of conservatism is equated with good. The good people I talk about are good human beings, and not people who pretend to be something, while doing something else when nobody looks. But this sort of pretense is what is being harvested in the youth of Kerala in the name of conservatism. Girls are taught to be "calm and homely", sent to "finishing schools" and to forget anything closely related to a career, IF they want to be the eligible CK. Guys are allowed to drink, smoke, sniff and whatever else, provided nobody knows about it. "dont drink in the bar, just drink at home, what will people say" constantly rings across most households in Kerala.

Anyway, over the last year or so, I have noticed a new phenomenon. Possibly a fall-out of the great Indian Outsourcing phenomenon that Bangalore led India to, which in reality has saved a lot of people from hunger and humiliation, and provided jobs to thousands of lazy people. Along with all the good things, Bangalore managed to outsource the wrath and jealousy of a lot of narrow-minded people. And going by my observations in Kerala recently, Keralites are topping this list too, along with the health and social development index. So today the west is very close to us, much closer than ever before.

In a television serial that I was subjected to today, as a result of some others in the same room watching it, I saw a young lady being chastised allegedly because she had a baby which she had in Bangalore, but kept it hidden from the conservative Kerala. Such references to Bangalore for anything immoral for the great CK is becoming more commonplace, and I have seen similar Bangalore bashing happening on a regular basis. Bangalores the new buzz-word in Kerala.

There was also this episode, apparently, where a "conservative malayali eligible guy and a homely, calm wife" are romancing (supposedly) with eachother . And the wife goes, "njaanum kure naal bangalore-il undayirunnu, athukondu enikkum ithokke ariyam" Which transaltes into " I was also in Bangalore for a while, so I also know all the naughty things".

I also see regular newspaper references bashing Bangalore. Bangalore's pubs, Bangalore's a hotspot for immoral traffic and what not, and the essence is that Bangalore's bad for our kids, and they may not grow up as the good CK. But of course, we still need the education for our kids, and the IT industry for the money, and when nobody is looking we can also enjoy ourselves a bit.

Anyway I dont want to go on describing these things and sound like a newspaper in Kerala myself. The idea of this post is a simple discovery:

From what I have seen, the so called Malayali youth are the people behind most of these so called incidents of immorality or indecency. It doesnt take long to establish this fact. You go to a mall with a girl and you can be rest assured that the maximum glares and cheesy comments will come from someone who also blurts "aliyaa". If a woman gets brushed in the store or grabbed on the dance floor, chances are its one of our fellow CK youth. Most brawls I have seen in pubs and bars, involve the good CK. If you stand long enough on Brigade Road, you can see the good CK in action.

But of course, after all this dirty indecent behavior, our men go back to Kerala to be the good CK. And allege Bangalore is a haven for all things bad.

I dont know when people of Kerala will realize that goodness is being respectful and truthful to your own conscience, and not put up a show for the "society" and do something else when nobody is watching. So what if men and women live together? Or if they kiss in public out of affection? Its much better than molesting your neighbours daughter or grabbing women in the bus. What if youth drink in pubs (as long as they know what they are doing)? Isn't Kerala the largest consumer of alcohol? And when we talk about all this social development, is Kerala not the worst in terms of respect for women?

I am not saying one wrong is better than another, but if we want to call something or someone wrong, it will be good if we are sure we are not wrong-doers ourselves.

The "west" is a place of independence and freedom to be the individual you want and should be, and not live your life according to what others think, or might think. And it is this spirit of individuality thats harbored in the so called "west", as opposed to mentally-stunted, pretencious people, who survive purely by bringing down the other person. The so called "west" is a character, not a place or region.

One recent example about the character of Bangalore: After the Cauvery ruling came against Karnataka, which is the single most sensitive and biggest issue for the majority of Karnataka, there were fears of violence and bandhs. But at the same time, the Aero Show 2007 was also happening in the city with thousands of foreigners (or westerners if you prefer!) in the city. The people agreed that the bandh be postponed to a date until after the Aero Show! One would say, it does not reflect the people's morality or decency. But similar is the way of thinking across the state. I wonder what would have happened in Kerala! No politician or party would have let go of the immense potential in the situation!

I am hoping that one day soon, the "west" will be a place within Kerala. Wonder "what people will have to say" then.
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