Friday, August 08, 2008

Slavery, Resilience. Then?

Man is a slave of circumstances, of habits.

I hail from a place in India where it pours very heavily; we almost have four to five months of real monsoon. Then, when I used to be there, I was accustomed to playing in the rain, going round the city with raincoats, umbrellas, riding rickshaws with water-proof curtains or even running across huge puddles of rainwater in front of our house. Rains used to be a part and parcel of life and so were out lifestyles; be it buying shoes especially for rainy days, be it getting dressed like that, or be it carrying an umbrella or raincoat while going out, if you guess it is going to rain that day. There were no surprises; we even knew which places to avoid, in case it rains too bad and areas get flooded.

Now the other aspect: power-cuts, for heaven's sake, we used to have plenty of them in Agartala - everyday for at least an hour, at an uninformed time. It used to be a part and parcel of life, too sarcastically, and reading in candle light or kerosene lamps used to be common long back, till things graduated to an alternative emergency electricity line. Preparations would go on since evening itself for the power-cuts, like keeping that part of the evening free and finishing off important things earlier or possibly later.

Life changed radically once I moved here. No rains (thanks to Arizona) and then the technology-slaved lifestyle in US, made me lame to handling situations like rains and powercuts. I was coming back with a big basket of laundered clothes today when unconsciously I stepped into a puddle of water and almost slipped. I realized I am wearing flip flops which have completely flat and smooth bases, a complete no-no for rains, as Mom used to say in India. Alas, the lifestyle here made me forget that!

And surprisingly, when I was driving to a grocery store later in the evening after the rain stopped, I passed between two intersections which were completely dark, jet black, and a poor traffic police guy was standing (with still little drops of rain pouring) and controlling the traffic. The irony being, certain places in Arizona, not being accustomed to such heavy rains, went almost crazy when some electrical equipment failed to operate and deliver electricity! And icing on the cake, even the traffic lights weren't working due to this power-cut! And trust me, unlike the rickshaws in Tripura which can operate on a flickering kerosene flame, driving without traffic lights working freaked me out totally. It was like putting yourself "out there," for some accident to occur!

This is all aside the ordeal the people living in that area were going through. This place is close to ASU campus, so quite a few students live there. Life is so much poised on this so called blissful technology that you cannot possibly cook anything (which means you starve unless thriving on already cooked food), can't get hot water (which means cannot shower), stay in the dark (which means no AC, no sleep) etc etc. Life just comes to a standstill, and especially if it persists for hours together.

I was just wondering at how we become accustomed to our situations, to our ambience and turn into slaves of technology. Only three years back, rains or powercuts per se, used to be no big deal at all. And now life just stops. A complete stop.

Man has this amazing capability to be resilient to whatever situation he or she is in. There is an inherent ability to adjust to the surroundings, to the situation, many be given sometime. Eventually everything gets leveled, we are the slaves of our own lives, of our own circumstances. Still, at the end of the day, knowing all of it, why do we panic when things are not our way? Where does that bliss of tremendous resilience go away all of a sudden?


Alok said...

"I was just wondering at how we become accustomed to our situations, to our ambience and turn into slaves of technology."

When someone thought of electricity, then it was just light that would help removing the dark or run some equipment. But gradually we build things that many ways are just part of an artificial mind that brings the pleasure to a body tuned for nothing more than that ... See, we only make our life miserable and blame technology.

Hmm! now I can say, we are slave to ourselves (read mind & body) and it become so so difficult to cope when nature triggers the change.

Kartik said...

Well put.