A classic case of same coin, two sides, i.e. development and changes – at times unwelcome ones – taking place in the society. The two are inter-related and inevitable, but somehow an average person misses this connection. The point is when we are at the receiving end as consumers, we love the glitzy malls, the Resto-Bars, the 24x7 services we get. As customers we feel pampered.
But, when we come across statistics on how loneliness has increased among Indians, on an average, despite social networking sites; or how the elderly feel neglected; or how even the nuclear families are crumbling as the DINK couple are living two separate lives with no time to share a LIFE, we wonder – when and how did that happen. How did we get caught in a trap called ‘24x7’?
With the festival season here, this ‘paradox of change’ (as I would like to call it) is more in play than ever. Case in point: Two of my neighbours who shared their holiday plans with me the other day.
Case 1: Across the road to my house live the Khannas. Their family is busy planning a shopping spree at a mall on Dussehra. The nearby stores close early, but there are no such limitations at the mall. So, the itinerary of Khannas includes buying clothes, shoes, jewellery and then enjoying a movie and be back home by midnight. Mr. Khanna has already reserved seats for the family at a pizza joint (the manager assured him that the staff is working full-time on the day) at the mall.
Case 2: The elderly Verma couple, my next-door neighbour, is feeling downcast as their only son, Ashish, won’t be able to reach home ahead of Diwali. Ashish works at a mall and his week-long leave application was turned down at the last minute. His boss needed an assistant to deal with the customer rush ahead of Diwali, so he cajoled Ashish into staying back, promising a 2-day leave extension after Diwali. Now, Ashish would reach home on Diwali day itself. His dad is furious as to how could his son’s boss be so callous, when everyone knows how important Diwali celebrations are for a family.
I think the above two cases amply prove the ‘paradox of change’ that I was talking about. The grouse that one most commonly comes across is – “zamana badal gaya, bhai. Today’s generation has no time for their elders. Nobody wants to be with their family”. Yes, the ‘’zamana’’ did change. The fact is night shifts have become quite ‘normal’ now. It’s no longer treated with the horrifying response it elicited earlier; when boys working late hours were suspected of being involved in nefarious activities, even if the poor guy was actually breaking his back over some files back at the office. However, now with every industry offering 24x7 services to its consumers, jobs like customer care executives involve night shifts as a routine.
In fact, the several call centres scattered across the metros and, increasingly, even small towns, invite young graduates to get job experience along with hefty pay packets and nobody is complaining. In fact, the youngsters take to the changed lifestyle (read graveyard shifts and dark circles around eyes) like ducks to water.
Has this all affected our way of living, our society as a whole? Yes. In quite a subtle way, which we probably have yet to realise, as it is an ongoing, gradual process. The older generation fails to understand what’s happening, and blames it all on generation gap or gets nostalgic about the good old days, or simply cribs about the obnoxious present.
One is not against development – to stop change is to stop the nature from taking its course – but would like the common man to understand the repercussions of change and thus, be better prepared to handle it. This means you can’t crow about the new call centre job that your daughter has landed while still in college and then in the same breath complain about her sleeping through the day and withdrawing from family responsibilities.
The society has to decide what it wants and then live with it. As to whether you want to be caught in the 24x7 trap or not, at the end of the day, it is your call.
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