Every now and then, you encounter certain people or are dropped into certain situations that you realize the world is not as one tone as you mistake it to be. It is much more vast and, more importantly, much more real!
So I’m a very frequent traveller of the Delhi Metro which has a daily ridership of 2.76 million, making it almost equal to the population of Lithuania, and perhaps the Delhi Metro is the only place where you’d find people from all walks of life rather easily.
You’ve got an office-goer, a teacher, a student, a rural migrant, a person with headphones on, a person watching illegally downloaded Bollywood movie, a person lost in the vastness of the internet, and also a person without any access to the web, a person who has no clue of the destination and is constantly troubling you for directions. You just have to name it.
Considering the wide spectrum of commuters, it is obvious that once in a while you’d have some really interesting encounters.
One such encounter happened with me which changed my monotonous thinking while I was going to Connaught Place and had to get down at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station. Just to give you some context, this metro station is infamous for being one of the most crowded stations in the whole network of Metro Stations.
So, coming back in the Metro. I realized the Station was about to come I moved towards the door and a middle-aged gentleman stood right behind me and asked me, “Are you going to get down at this Station?”
I was familiar with such questions and I just said “Yes,” and looked away.
“Could you please move a little ahead then,” he politely said, perhaps thinking I was unaware what was about to come.
I did move ahead towards the door but unintentionally gave him a you-don’t-tell-me-where-to-stand reaction and he picked on it.
“Educated people like you understand,” he said. “But still there are still people who don’t understand and create complete mayhem at this station.”
I was shocked to hear this and asked gently, “Why don’t you try to change it? If you try to follow the rules and not create chaos then maybe others will also follow.”
Honestly, even I was surprised after saying this as I generally don’t question people like this but at the same time, I was proud.
He fell short of words, then fumbled a little before speaking clearly, “We want to compete with America but we can’t do anything about it… We have become habitual to living a certain way and we can’t change it.”
I wanted to reply but just as he finished we reached the platform and he deboarded immediately finding the nearest escape, not interested in the conversation any more.
By this brief encounter with a man whose life certainly hadn’t taught me a lot. I assume I did my bit by telling him to do his bit, implementing that was his job. I believe that our situation is not very different from this gentleman, we complain, we scream, we tweet, but what we all don’t do is: act. I never thought of it this way. I thought that young India was changing everything, I thought people’s mentality had changed but no.
We all say India is our country, then we must own it, take responsibility of it, take action wherever necessary, because a nation is not built by politicians, diplomats, or anything, a nation is built by the People.
If I categorize all the people into three broad categories, with my limited exposure, there would be, (a) The ones who see the problem and remain silent, (b) the ones who see the problem, criticise it, and go away to some better place, and (c) the ones who see the problem, criticise it, and act upon it to change it for the better.
I don’t say that everything is going to change in a day, in a month, in a year, in a decade, or maybe even a century, but the real question is, are you going to do your bit?
Shakespeare said, “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” I say, “To act, or not to act, that is the question.”
The choice is all yours…