Sunday, December 11, 2011

THE RELIGIOUS DIVIDE

Throughout history, each paradigm of development has left us with a gulf between the haves and have-nots. Today, we see an India which downloads torrents and plays Angry Birds on their smartphones like there's no tomorrow, and another whose local bank branch runs manually. This is the digital divide.

Similarly, it's easy to extrapolate backwards and see how Messr. Gutenberg might have created a class of readers and another bunch who couldn't afford a papyrus. Go back a few more years, and there might have been one class of cavemen who didn't know jack about clubs while the rest, no doubt, met around their local bar, The Brown Mastadon, talking about the latest advancements in club technology and how the aerodynamics and contours of the new MammothBasher 9000 were so much better.

Anyhow...

Following a couple of surgeries after an accident in mid July, I've been shuttled off to Bahrain to spend time recuperating at the nice apartment my parents stay in. Usually, of course, that's not too bad a thing. Who doesn't like spending time with his parents, having some maa ka khana rather than the oi teri maa ki that Mumbai roadsides are likely to feed you? And that too in a luxurious quiet place with no mosquitoes, faltering ceilings and generally space to move around (my mom, staying in my Mumbai room said that she felt like a stranded passenger sleeping on a railway platform)?

Sadly, all this comes at a teeny price. My parents are religious. Oh, not the normal sort of 'religious'. You know when they say 'Jonty Rhodes religiously practices his fielding' and 'Neils Bohr religiously studied Physics'? THAT sort of 'religious' religious.

Of course, most of my childhood was spent in subservience - never a good thing if you're a kid who just wants to be left alone to his own amusements. Hence followed a series of things my parents thought I should be indoctrinated in - the best of which was a weekly prayer class which pretty much ruined the only morning on which most kids would get some sleep. Car radio stations were shunned for hours and hours of drones and monotonic renditions of bhajans filled my daily sojourn to and from school. Vacations were things I used to dread, because that invariably meant 'temple-seeing-trip-in-Kerala-accompanied-by-meeting-hordes-of-strange-people-who-bitch-about-each-other'. Birthdays, those things of presents and cakes and friends, unfortunately fell during vacation months and instead of Black Forest I got a vadyaar and a fire.

But heck, I made peace with all this. I loved my parents and was willing to take all this in my stride, because, hey, what did I know?

Then of course, I discovered the world. And rebellion began. When I say 'rebellion', I don't mean actively protesting against meaningless pujas with picket signs and telling my extended family what a waste of time and money all this was, but just a dip in the subservience (a term you will encounter a couple of paragraphs up). So while the annual pilgrimage was being mooted, I went from my its-my-fate silence to its-still-my-fate-but-heck 'Mehhh'.

Woohoo! I had rebelled!

Anyway, there is this large gulf between me and my parents, easily the most religious people I know - I call this the religious divide. They of the annual Sabarimala planners, I of the giver of a rodent's posterior. They of the early morning japam, I of the Google Reader.

It's fun sometimes imagining scenarios like the ones below, if the tables were turned a little.


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Remember that extra commandment that George Carlin had? That wonly.

Ah well, what's life without a little disagreement, right?