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Plan B

Nobody seems to have a Plan B in their lives these days. And certainly not the younger generation for sure!

While traveling to school, we used to be given extra money for auto fare in case the bus didn’t come, and back up money to be hidden in an inner pocket just in case we lost the auto fare, and the telephone number to be used in the eventuality that both the bus didn’t come and the money got lost; and finally just to be safe the address of a distant cousin who stayed near the school in case all the above plans failed! So forget having just Plan B; at the drop of the proverbial hat, we had Plans C, D and E ready!

In stark contrast when young son and heir was zipping his way up and down the US in his undergraduate days; a country which at last count was 11645 miles and several time zones away from home, I was horrified to discover that he was traversing aforesaid miles/zones with just a credit card in his pocket and an attitude of complete insouciance. When I tried to explain the need to carry some cash in one pocket and some back-up in the bag and the telephone number of the aunt in Brussels, I was told that I was being unnecessarily hysterical and paranoid!

Reaching the airport just in time to board the flight, not checking 7 times whether the restaurant has indeed booked the table in our name, expecting the cook to be there on time and therefore making plans for the hour immediately after he finishes cooking is a very common part of the narrative of our children’s lives.

And maybe they are justified in their thinking.

When we were growing up it was in the milieu of an economically un-awakened and inefficient socialist environment. The new television, bought with such excitement, inevitably had something rattling inside it and did not work, the heel fell off your sandal after the first day of wearing it, the telephone needed to be dialed several times to get the connection through (though that still hasn’t changed courtesy Airtel and Vodafone), the Fiat car always stopped embarrassingly at the signal and one had to get out to push it right in front of the smirking neighbors and no one ever reached anywhere on time. Not the electrician, nor the carpenter and certainly not your cousin from Ludhiana! The philosophy clearly was- if it can stop working, it will! So you always kept extra ice in your neighbor’s fridge, 2 water buckets filled up as back up and dedicated a whole day’s leave to wait for the plumber on the 50% probability that he would turn up while valiantly reading DIY manuals as Plan B! Contingency plans for every eventuality were always in place, including back up hand written acetates for the slide presentation.

Life is certainly far more efficient now and increasingly requires fewer standbys. And maybe one of the key catalysts has been the new, young consumer pushing and expecting everyone around her including her service providers to be more proficient. An ultimatum we did not drive because of the low benchmarks we had set for ourselves and those around us?

Apurva