I have lived in Pune and Mumbai for most of my life. No doubt these are some of the better cities to live in India. Mumbai with its financial clout and Pune with its educational and cultural diversity are places people look forward to settling down. People feel that those who want to work will always find a job in these two cities. With this change, cosmopolitanism has captured roots in a big way in these cities. This change is especially felt in Pune as it had more “closed’ culture compared to Bombay when I moved to Pune in late ’60 s of the last century. I can tell many stories on this subject, but that is a subject for another blog.
About ten-twelve years back we wanted to move to an independent home, but from long term view, we decided to buy a townhouse in a new colony. It is a lovely colony. We lived in that colony till end 2013. Some family circumstances came up, we locked this home and moved to another locality, this time in an eleven-story condominium, it’s a rented home. The other day we went to visit the old house. Now both Jaya and I are nearing the age of 70. Hence there is a discussion going on regarding our stay in future. The old townhouse is an option, we have other properties too!
Yesterday, we took a call not to move there. The colony is modern with beautiful gardens for each home, with every 4th or 6th home having an extensive garden. The colony is maintained well, except for the gym amenities like swimming pool, children’s play areas, shared gardens, community hall et al. grace the society. Now you may ask me why we took a decision not to move back there.
Yesterday, while on the way out I saw that there was a group of people, men and women discussing heatedly on the beautiful well lighted tennis court. I was sure it must have been a general discussion about the celebrations for the festivals coming up shortly. I thought it was an excellent opportunity to meet some of them, so I got down from the car and entered the tennis court. Some of the ladies looked as if they had just finished a game of tennis but were not dressed up for it. They were red in the face. As I was nearing the group most common word that I heard was “Shit” shouted mainly by females. I am writing a sentence shouted, verbatim, during the discussion. “What the hell do you think of yourself”? and so on!
I was surprised. In my times, I was the Chairman of the society committee for five years. There were differences of opinion, there were heated arguments, but mature ways kept things civil. There was no shouting, there were no Shit words, and in general, people showed respect to each other. The birth of the first formal society committee happened at that time and systems were yet to be established. So there used to be some tricky issues which needed cooperation and maturity. There were awkward situations like the removal of one of the members from admin responsibilities. This person used to put Geneset diesel in his car. He used to skim money in connivance with the builder. There was no formal committee in those days. But the operative word was dignity.
But the level to which the shouting and slanging match was heard yesterday indicated something had seriously gone wrong with the fabric of the society. I know all the involved parties personally. They do have strong views but have always been fun-loving and polite individuals. I don’t live there any more, since the last five years. In those five years, I had expected people to have become more mature and dignified! But where had the dignity gone?
I am not sure what had gone wrong yesterday. I am sure it must have been simmering for some time. I have seen glimpses of these behaviours on the WhatsApp group. But I was quite sure that when people meet face to face, the exchange of views is generally soft. WhatsApp group exchange involved writing. The way people express themselves in writing sometimes feels harsh because of the writing style. But when you are face to face, this exchange is a combination of spoken words, intonation, facial expressions and body language. Yesterday’s discussion showed the worst of all these traits in both men and women.
Let me tell you a little about the background of the people in the colony in general. Many of them are double income families, and most are having 15 to 20 years experience in their field, mostly in IT. The average new car these folks would now buy will be in the region of about a million rupees. Resold homes in the colony cost 15 million rupees.
The subject for discussion was, as my one minute stay allowed me to understand was the use of assets, in this case, the tennis court. As usual, my grey cells started whirring, and I was trying to know (I was going to use word understand, but I felt that I would never guess what was happening.) why it was happening?
- Was it due to wealth?
- Was it the senior positions they have achieved their respective jobs?
- Was it due to a shortage of assets? There are 121 townhouses, and if we consider average one child per home, now there are 121 children of different ages. Some families would need a play area for kids, some would require a swimming pool and some would need a tennis court. The tennis court is the only large open area for parties, tennis, cricket, football and what have you. Even if only 30 children need to use the arena, it is going to be tricky. Then there are groups of young professionals around 25/26 years of age. These folks also need this area to play outdoors during weekends. On some Sundays, parents also play Cricket matches or Football matches. There is a significant shortfall of assets like open spaces.
- In society, all are from the higher middle class with good income. Is it possible that some people can not handle the rapid increase in salary?
But does it mean that shouting match (or was it slanging match) is justified? During the evenings with a glass of Chivas Regal, we all curse the politicians for their crass behaviour. How would this shouting match (in front of kids) be explained? The so-called blamed person was very dignified, and his demeanour was very graceful against the rude behaviour of the ladies. I don’t know what happened later in the evening.
Where does one go from here? Can society tell the members not to behave obnoxiously? Does society have powers with them to handle personal behaviour? I don’t think so. Women’s rights organisations would have been shocked to see the response of the so-called highly educated and sophisticated ladies. Unfortunately, ladies have joined the bandwagon of rudeness in MeToo days!
I don’t want to move back to this high-end slum again!