Long train journeys force you to think, either by lack of any excitement nearby or the sight of meadows, hills, rural people etc. make you philosophical. I recently made a two thousand six hundred thirty eight kilometers long journey from an idyllic Malyali town to the plains of Bihar. It wasn’t most stimulating of the journeys but I met an interesting set of people who led different kind of lifestyles and had few things in common. I also got to read a few captivating books like Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer. It was the first-hand account of the dreaded life in Kashmir by a Muslim and it wasn’t about the politics, partition, historical blunders or the best solution; it was about a common man’s life in the badlands of Kashmir, a rather simple life. If I think about what causes diversity in life across the globe, there are lot more things than history and geography only. Think about life of few people down here:
-A Muslim navy officer posted at INS Dronacharya, who hails from West Bengal and likes to read and do orkutting
-A newly married lady from Bihar, who is bored in Cochin and wants to come back to her native place with her young son so that she can enjoy her time (PS: leaving husband behind)
-An old Mallu lady who lives with her family and doesn’t travel much or know about the world
-A normal middleclass self-indulgent youth who is in army and continues to bask in the glory
-A 2 yr old kid who is fed properly, likes to jump around and considers everything a toy
-An educated self-centered semi-urban youth concerned with his career, life ahead and goes by his own interpretations of things
-A hardworking semi-literate guy who works in a big city and sends his earnings to his family in the village
-A 17 year old rich and beautiful estrogen-filled girl who parties around and changes boyfriend(s) before expiry date
-A little playful Rajasthani girl who leads a nomadic life
-An educated working man with a settled family and job and likes to criticize politics and western culture
-A gossipmonger housewife who likes to assert power over her husband and children
-A person who does a fraud and runs away with lot of money to a different place
-A person living on mountains, who drinks water from the running stream nearby
There are plenty and may be you can identify yourself with some of them. I met the first five mentioned above, on the same train and sixth being myself. If I were born in Kashmir, I would be used to drinking Kahwa, getting frisked at every few steps, being tormented by security and hearing stories of people dying around or forced to either by militants or the not-so-well-known barbarism of Indian army. If I were an Eskimo, I would probably be concerned about extreme winter and storage of food. If I were a Guitarist, I would probably be concerned with making new music.
There are varying degrees of association with different things in life. It is not just a matter of personal preference. Probably most important factor is the way we are brought up. A kid brought up in extremely conservative environment may turn out to be same or just the opposite. A kid who goes to a posh school will have different ideology than a simple small town kid. A chic girl who is used to being the centre of attraction is more likely to develop a superfluous attitude than a simpler unassuming counterpart. Family, Friends and Companions are the initial platforms where one starts to crawl, but eventually all that knowledge gets drowned in the world and the remains are what the individual chooses to retain. Politics affect one in a great way or else Bengalis and Malyalis wouldn’t be associated with communism. A pure capitalist would be a rather brutal result-oriented individual than a socialist who would seek equality in various aspects. A class topper would have different group dynamics than a talkative rule-defying kid at the backbench. I am glad I wasn’t born in a poor Nigerian family, an illiterate family in Afghanistan or among the hoodlums of Rio De Janeiro. The effect of society has been variegated on different individuals. Not all was chosen by an individual, and that’s what sets one apart, right from the beginning.