Friday, July 08, 2005

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE

On the 6 month anniversary of the tsunami, a friend and me found ourselves in Cuddalore. He bought a packet of sweets and started handing them out to kids we saw along our stroll through one of the temporary shelter colonies. The kids were happy at the sudden appearance of this gift.

But the elders were a slightly different kettle of fish. One old lady scoffed at the little toffee and asked what it was expected to do for her empty stomach. She took it nonetheless. A couple of men sitting around in the sun raised their hands asking for some. Old ladies were directing kids to approach us and demand their share of the goodies.

Something about all this asking, for a small, insignificant toffee was vulgar and despicable. And not one thank you…just a lot of grabbing because it was free.

As we were leaving one woman raised a child up to the car window so that we would bestow our largesse on him as well. But by then we were too disgusted to display any.

I have read reports glorifying the fishing community as one that is resilient and proud. Resilient yes, proud… definitely not. The community in this village struck me as an idle bunch of freeloaders. Its probably what their kids might learn too.

Is dignity and pride a preserve of those who have enough? I really dont know.














4 comments:

HR Venkatesh said...

Well...people like them could surely be able and healthy enough to work for a living. But surely, their economic state wouldn't have taught them concepts like pride, work satisfaction and stuff like that.
Consider a true yogi - he doesn't want more mundane pleasures, and might scoff at you for wanting to see a film or jump at the chance for a junket!

Anyway, it's a chicken and egg thing isn't it...

It's the chicken and egg thing isn't it? Who's responsible for this state of being - the people themselves or people who disburse sweets f

Deep said...

Dignity and pride may not necessarily be the prerogative of those who have enough… it’s the easiest thing to blame the system, but then if you look at it, possibly there is something wrong in the way we believe in giving out aid… what starts with a deluge as givers descend with the band-baja in tow, gradually fades as people go back on commitments – I’m sure you remember Vivek Oberoy’s misadventure – you were there when he took his plans to Pondicherry. Look at it in the micro level - what about someone who had planned restarting his life on the basis of these promises? May be the elders in Cuddalore had had their own Vivek too…

Guess dignity in taking comes when there dignity in giving too… though you came to give with dignity, it possibly came after a long list of things thrown at them… rendering them incapable of accepting anything with grace…

Really like the way you write; would like it if you wrote more often.

Alaphia said...

Deep - Your perspective is very interesting. Must admit, i didnt think of that at all. And thank you... i will be writing more.

Ankur said...

we wud have made the freeloaders after the tsunami,,i had heard reports on how the clothes were strewn around is some place,,when the people there needed food and shelter,,