Wednesday, May 17, 2006

All I want is everything

or at least, 49% of it. I want 49% of admissions into kindergarten, 49% of college seats, 49% of jobs in every sector, government and private, I want it all. But that's what I'm not ever going to have.As of today, a little under half of all jobs, educational oppotunites, choice of careers... is gone. I just need to fight for what's left.

Every morning, when the train comes in, there is enough space for around 100 people to sit, and a thousand to stand. Every morning, five thousand people actually occupy this space. Every morning, around fifty people abandon trying to get into the compartment becasue it's too crowded / difficult / dangerous. Every morning, three or four people fall off and get maimed or die.

Every morning, I am able to get a sitting place in the same compartment, under a fan, and go to to work reading or listening to music. I can do this because I taught myself how to use the timings, the spacing, how to swing around the bar while the train's still doing 20 kmph and use that angular velocity to curve into the seat I want before it's too late. I've taught myself to break bagstraps, knock off specs, and twist elbows while making it look completely accidental to get in. It's nothing personal. It's just the way the system works. I broke a guy's nose once, and nearly lost my fingertips another time. I do it because I need to.

Every morning, I know that two years from now, I will not be doing this anymore, because I will have moved beyond Bombay, I will have upgraded myself to the point where the daily commute like this is not needed.
It's nothing personal. It's just the way my career works. I start low, try out combinations, fight to get to a level and go beyond it. I don't care about the train. It has it's moments, good, bad, exhilarating, nightmarish. It also has its lifecycle. I'll use it for as long as I have to.

Every morning, I know that five years from now, fighting for 51%, or 25%, or 10%, or one job in a hundred, or less, will not be an issue. I will have moved on. Whether India adopts a reservation system or not; whether human beings fight like animals for basic necessities or not; it won't matter. I - or my family, my kids - won't be part of it. They'll have their own battles to fight, of course, but this is one that will have been already won.

I did ok. I might have done better if I'd gone to the engineering college here someone ten percentage points lower and with a different surname unfortunately got that last seat, but I did ok anyway. I guess it's how you look at life. You can cry over it and say you've been robbed of something that should have been yours by right, or you can accept that the only things that are yours by right are what you've worked for, fought for, and got. Nobody owes you anything. Not your ancestry, not your country, not your government. Only you owe yourself a life. You work for it, you get it, and you move on.

What happens to the train, the college, the government, the country... it doesn't matter. They don't owe you, you don't owe them.
It's nothing personal.
Update - May 26th
Another poster reads: "I am leaving for the US. I was disowned by my own country."


  1. Anonymous10:39 PM


  2. Can completely relate... wonderful piece of writing!

  3. Not that I don't love this country, in case anyone is getting the wrong impression.
    I'll definitely visit during the holidays.