Not your usual end-of-year retrospect but I thought I’ll jot down some of the thoughts I’ve had on my mind lately anyways. Last year and the time until now has been challenging for every single one of us, more so for some and not so much for others. Countless people lost their loved ones, many more lost their jobs, their livelihood among other important things that people cherish in life.
On the contrary, folks in the IT industry, like me, have had it easy. Much easier I must say. We all started working from home at the earliest signs of the pandemic and we’ve been getting paid more or less the same. All of my friends in the IT field are living a more comfortable life, they can work from the comfort of their home and not bother about commuting to office. Some of us have also been given stipends to buy equipment to set a home offic so that we’re more productive, we’re also occassionaly invited to virtual events organized by our orgs to play online games with our colleagues. Apart from mental burnout which is often the case in IT especially in India, things have been comfortably good. The pandemic for folks in IT just meant a whole new way of working. Sure, there are challenges with working remote but nothing that cannot be solved. Now If you compare it with some of the other folks in other industries, you’ll realize how hard it has been for them. I remember during the peak Covid cases surge here in Delhi, India, a known vegetable seller in our vicinity asked asked me to help him with applying for an e-pass so he can go door to door delivering vegetables in person. Imagine, the whole world being shit scared to step out of their homes and this guy is desperately seeking a way to do the exact opposite. Why? Because he can’t have customers come to his shop due to the lockdown and since it’s his only source of income, there’s no other option available for him. You’ll find plenty of such examples out there if you try to look for them.
Privilege is the word that comes to mind when I think of such things. I realized Covid has just brought this disparity out on the surface, it’s always been there, this divide, carefully maintaining the intangible equilibrium that a lot of us conveniently and subconconciously (often conciously) choose to ignore. There’s an obvious segregation in our society, of those who are privileged and those who are unfortunately not and it’s evident as soon as you step out of your house. Just the other day, I was cycling to the gym early in the morning and halfway to the gym, I pass through a shiny blue Bentley Mulsanne (costs around ~6 crore INR). Right next to the car, on the footpath, I see a person using water collected in a puddle from the rains overnight to take a bath (ref: Matthew Effect). Imagine having to come across a sight like that early in the morning. Another time, during one of my cycling runs, I came across an indigent individual on the road on a signal in one of the more affluent areas of Delhi, having a meal (rice and some curry) directly off the road. It will give you the chills, these images, if you were to experience them first hand. These are stories from the national capital, I don’t even know what’s going on in other parts of the nation let alone the whole world, I just hope it’s not this bad. Now you might think that’s a sure-shot case of socioeconomic inequality and it is, but it’s not just that, it reeks of our failure, the society as a whole, to at least try to ensure that nobody has to go through something like that. It’s distressing.
By now, you must be asking, what did I do to help those folks I just talked about, and truth be told, I did nothing. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to say to a guy who’s eating off a road. I didn’t know either what to say to a guy who’s using puddle water to bath. I’m still not sure. Unfortunately, there are no right answers here at this point, not from me at the very least. But until there is one, I try to support local NGOs who are focusing on education and food shortage amongst the needy. I honestly don’t know if it makes a difference and If you’ve suggestions around this, I’d love to talk about it.
What’s the point of this post? there isn’t one, to be honest. I was reading this post by Armin Ronacher of the same title and I found myself thinking about these things I’ve experienced in the last year and a half. I thought I should put it out there for two reasons I guess 1) So that I have a clearer idea of what I believe in when I think of a fulfilling life and 2) Just like how I was inspired to write this piece, maybe it’ll help someone else pen their thoughts down and share it with the world so that more of us are aware of our privileged background and upbringing and to not take it for granted.
Closing this weird(for me) post with this one line I heard from one of Vir Das’s sets, not sure which one. Here’s how it goes: