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Thhoda dhania dena Bhaiyya!

We, the 60s born are what I call the cusp generation, although unkinder people may end up calling us confused and a bit lost.

Born of hardworking, thrifty parents with limited means, we grew up in an environment of wearing hand me down clothes, safety pin augmented sandals, borrowed books and second class train rides to Naani’s home for summer vacations. In almost unseemly contrast we have spawned a generation of self-assured kids expecting and getting immediate gratification for whatever they want, three luxury cars at their disposal and unlimited access to the latest gizmo, to entertainment, and to the rest of the world through mandatory holidays in exotic foreign locales.

We appreciate and practice the values that our parents taught us (after all education and perseverance did get us where we have reached) and equally empathize with the sense of entitlement our children have, since not only does it make them super confident and assertive but it is also out of dint of the effort and caution that we put in, in the years when we were starting our careers and marriages. We deserve it we feel, and by proxy they deserve the indulgences too.

However, being objective and appreciating equally the virtues of both the worlds we straddle, also is fraught with its own set of dangers.

We invariably and frequently fall prey to moral dilemmas and angst ridden conflicts especially in consumption led decisions, the outward manifestation is arguments with our parents (why don’t you call for a taxi instead of getting onto a bus at your age ????) and children (do you really need a branded belt?), while in essence it is a conflict within ourselves. One side of which whispers prudence is a virtue, and the other which screams Carpe Diem, especially when entering that snazzy new mall or the Michelin starred restaurant!

Every day we struggle to make sense of all this and fumble our way through various shades of grey choices we have to make which no text book has ever prepared us for. All the stories and case studies were black and white examples of right or wrong and of obvious choices to be made between good and bad. No one really taught us to make the Scylla and Charybdis type of choices between two equally promising actions or two equally bad ones!

The manifestation of this mental muddle ends up in us being gloriously penny wise and pound foolish! So we don’t think twice about buying that expensive watch which could keep a small family in comfort for six months but we definitely will ensure that we bargain with the fruit seller, get the two rupee change back from the auto rickshaw driver and give only bed sheets to be ironed to the Dhobi! And woe betide the vegetable vendor if he doesn’t give us free dhania! Heavens will fall and the earth will quake!

As the world worries about rising inequality and non-inclusive growth levels where the rich are getting richer and the poorer progressively more so, can we at least do our tiny wee bit by ensuring we increase the dhobi’s income by giving him more clothes to iron and the driver by paying him overtime and for god’s sake let’s start paying for the ‘dhania’?