Opinionated Solutions to Life's Problems

Lots of opinions, Lots of options, Lots of hidden answers to Life's convulated questions.

Location: California, United States

LIKES: India, Music, Math, Dance, Advertising, Statistics, Optimism, Dreams, Strong opinions, Rains, Bike rides, Caribbean Sea, Jamaica, Waterfalls, Swimming, Stray dogs, Full moon, Tagore, F.R.I.E.N.D.S., Junglee sandwich, Phone talks, Jasmine flowers, Short work meetings, Fridays & Saturdays, Chocolate ice-cream at mid-night. HATES: Sweet tongued liars & Bitter tongued liars

Friday, March 30, 2007

Honesty in Adversity

So, it feels great to be back on the ground...not from the high flying clouds but from deep down below, 79 ft to be precise. The air smells more fragrant and I now have a happy springy walk when I log off at 6 PM, rushing inside the elevator and then whistling 'Raindrops keep fallin' ; while a confused desi with disbelief writ large on his face looks at me like I am undressing inside the elevator or doing something as ridiculously impossible as that.

A couple days back as I was driving back from work, the traffic as usual was terrible getting on to the freeway. Ab mera ek narcissist logic yeh hai ki whenever I leave a little early from work, the whole of the company feels like leaving early, just to catch a glimpse of yours truly, so traffic jam to hona hi tha ;) On a more logical note, it was 5.30 PM the prime time for everyone to be on MY freeway.

As I maneuvered through the crazy traffic I thought of my first few days in the US. I always noticed how far away every car is from the other while waiting on the red lights here in Awesome Amricaa. This display of discipline and consideration for others almost brought me to tears. Okay fine, I wasn't THAT emotional.

But still, I was filled with admiration for all these people- of different shapes and sizes, ethnic backgrounds and ages following the same cardinal rule- respect on the roads for everyone else. Just as the lights turned yellow, brakes were gently applied and cars were stopped very much behind the white line (as if it were some kind of lakshman rekha). Pedestrians crossed the street with happiness on their faces- casually chatting not even bothering to look both sides before walking through the busy junction. All cars lined up uniformly- one behind the other, keeping a comfortable (read: at least 5 ft) distance between the other, patiently waiting for the light to turn green. I was shocked. Pleasantly shocked.

Just yesterday I had seen the autowallah shouting "abbey khisak na jaldi" at the scooterist who cut him from the wrong side. In return the scooterist pressed his shrill but potent (read: ear splitting) horn a few times as if it were a way to reaffirm his stupidity. Just yesterday, I had seen the old and feeble lady cross the road running as fast as she could wildly lifting her hands in all directions as if to say "stop, please, don't hit me". And the 20 something young and brash idiot almost running the poor lady over in his gleaming maruti esteem. Just yesterday, I saw a bunch of school children at the pedestrian crossing waiting for the endless stream of traffic to stop even though their 'walk' sign was on and the policeman shouting for the traffic to stop while simultaneously averting the two cows that were grazing on plastic bags happily in the middle of the busy road.

And the very next day, here I was 8000 miles from home, suddenly amidst order, discipline, and silence on the roads. In 24 hours, like magic the whole scene transformed into this serene world where no one got agitated and reacted angrily on the road. No one tried to cut corners on the road in a wild race to finish first. And, no one really acted like they owned the road or maybe like their father owned it. I always compared the orderly traffic of USA to India where the cars almost touched each other on red lights and the accelerators were pushed hard even before the light turned green.

And then I saw the same americans scurrying and pushing each other during the thanksgiving rush in malls and parking lots. I was completely in denial. This cannot be, I said to myself. These guys aren't supposed to behave this way. These are the same people who queue on red lights so methodically and drive with a sophisticated air. How can that Chevy cut off that Toyota Camry like this? The parking spot clearly belonged to the Camry guy, didn't he give his indicator for it too?

And then it stuck me. What matters is what your attitude is when you are faced with a difficult situation. When there are plenty of parking spots available, being courteous is easy. When there are just a handful of cars waiting on the red light, parking a few feet away from each other is easy. What happens when the situation is not so convenient? What happens when there are a hundred cars vying for ten parking spots?

So, let me ask you this question. When in a difficult situation, do you still remain honest or do you cheat? Do you take the easy way out or stick to your ideals?

As for me, I find it difficult sometimes to stick to my values. It is not easy being the odd one out. The one who might be labeled the spoilt sport just because she doesn't want to cut through the line for some first day first show tickets; Or the one who is trying to get the highest grades just because she didn't pass around her answer sheet during the Statistics class test and didn't 'share' her knowledge with friends.

But most of the times, I've stood my ground. I strongly believe in being honest on the road and following traffic rules. Invariably I think of my days in India. I think about the times when I was zooming on the roads in my new Santro during my late teen years and the crazy traffic surrounding me.

I am also reminded of those times when everyone around me almost connived against me by deciding to break all traffic rules. And believe me, it takes a lot of courage to stop at the red traffic light in your car when there is no policemen present and hoards of people are honking and shouting for you to move forward. It is embarrassing and de-motivating.

But when the light turns green, and you decide to move ahead, something feels right inside of you. Ahhh, now that's what honoring your own conscience must feel like.

Arre what’s this now, I counted almost four cars with single drivers in the carpool lane zooming past me. Ufff, kis kis ko sudharenge ;-)

Music: Mere hum nafas, Mere hum nawa (Farida Khanum)
Mood: Relieved and Happy


Blogger Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Yes, the test of sticking to values is at its highest when the times are difficult. Road discipline is really great here, at least at normal times. But the fact that you do try to consciously stick to your values is laudable. So wish you all the best with such future choices, especially about the 'Atithi Devo Bhavah' sermon! :)

BTW, the GOLD is mine --- yaay!!!

4:49 PM  
Blogger Strider said...

//the whole of the company feels like leaving early, just to catch a glimpse of yours truly, so traffic jam to hona hi tha ;)
you sound so much like a dear friend of mine!

my first thought after reading abt the 5ft distance was of admiration, the second was "kya lallu log hai!" ;-)

3:20 AM  
Blogger Sakshi said...

Nice post. You had me nodding the whole time. People here stop at the stop signs even when no one is watching but then scratch, nudge and fight over a wedding gown at the sale! So when it matters, we are all animals at heart and can fight dirty.
Teh question is can you live with yourself afterwards. I can't. So I don't care how people view what I do, I will try and remain true to myself. And as you point out, it's not always easy :)

Sahi gaana. I love her voice.

11:13 AM  
Blogger The Lonely Traveller said...

Hey Gaon walon yeh wakai mein mari nahi :-)
BTW, you post was very good and honest! It's very difficult to stick to your values when you see others around you taking the easy way out and seem like winning. I would like to quote one of my fav poems but Robert Frost
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

4:15 AM  
Blogger Life Lover said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Life Lover said...

sudipta---> hmmmm to aapne kar hi li na apne pate ki baat ;) that reminds me, i need to go check my emails for answering some bay area travellers guide type questions, mein to chali :)

strider---> haan? you also have a narcissist friend kya? :) haan, kam traffic mein they keep the 5 ft wala rule, jab traffic jam hota hai to bilkul mumbai ka dadar hi dekh lo! :)

sakshi---> you said it...remaining true to my own self just makes life simpler for me, so I am nice coz I am selfish, I think about my conscience above everything else :) i think khanum's voice suits some ghazals and mere hum nafas is one of those imo, love the lyrics of this one too.

lonely traveller---> that's a classic poem, one of my favorites as an adolescent and even as an adult now :) btw, heard from you after a long time, hope everything is well, i am going to check out your blog very soon, be prepared for a comment attack!

1:56 PM  
Blogger Orchid said...

I wanted to say it's not an apples to apples comparison after the first part of your post..but as I read along..you seem to have arrived at that conclusion yourself...I guess behavior is always linked to the abundance or lack of resources ::

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Supremus said...

Well, I think the the degree of chaos is directly proportional to degree of population. Civilized or otherwise :D


1:35 PM  
Blogger The Lonely Traveller said...

Aaao thakur aao!
Hum aise chote-mote dhamkiyon(read comment attck) se darne wale nahi...
The laughter echoes...

And then dead calm prevails ;-)

4:19 AM  
Blogger Daddy's Girl said...

Very thought-provoking post - it really is difficult to abide by values at difficult moments - but those moments are inevitably the ones that define us and reveal our true selves. Values and the desire to 'do things right' are no more than ideals until they are tested. Great post.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Di said...

on the lighter side...soch...the view of the non-indian traffic is so predictable..while here we have all shapes, sizes and vehicles in impossible positions! :D

5:57 AM  
Blogger Life Lover said...

orchid---> i agree with you and hence the question-- do you remain true to your ideals, do you remain honest in times of difficulty or in your words scarcity of resources? i always believe that our conscience is tested the most when we are in hard situations, some emerge out of them with honesty, some with some amount of dishonesty...am not judging anyone here, just posing a question to understand human psychology better :)

supremus---> degree of chaos? yes. degree of honesty? perhaps...and that is what i want to understand through the question that i posed :)

lonely traveler---> comment attack kaisa raha? abhi to shuruat hai, aage aage dekho hota hai kya ;) hehehehe hoooo hooo hooo (some kinda stupid + evil laugh)!

daddy's girl---> thanks and well said :) will visit your blog soon, have been on a long hiatus, but have returned now

di---> colorful duniya is definitely india-- the two wheelers, the bullock carts...agreed :) par tujhe nahi lagta, kabhi kabhi usse thak jaate hai na? just my thought, btw, will visit your blog soon, bahot din ho gaye di ka blog dekhe :)

11:55 AM  
Blogger PSV said...

interesting blog girl.

keep blogging!

6:10 AM  
Blogger sinusoidally said...

First sudhar is always in oneself...

8:28 AM  
Blogger Pallavi said...

I have tried and somehow managed to stick to honesty in most difficult times too. Is the music you recommending good?

4:58 PM  
Blogger Strider said...

found ten cobwebs and three spiders in this place! :-P

naya post kab aayega??

6:35 AM  
Blogger Life Lover said...

psv---> thanks

sinusoidally---> always :)

pallavi---> great, keep it up! yes, i like it a lot...it is from farida khanum's ghazal collection, this one is especially breathtaking, listen to it if you are found of good urdu poetry and a deep voice :)

strider--->ewwwwwwww, i hate cobwebs and bhago bhago! i am afraid of all spidery things, safai shuru karungi, aur naya post bahot jaldi :)

9:36 AM  
Blogger Isha said...

when life turns difficult i just do things by crook .. because .. failure is not an option and urgency is a matter of emergency ;)

I know im a spoilt little twit with no values for words like virtue and honour and im condemned to hell the hypothetical possibility of it anyway

but i have no conscience.. or a lesser prevalent one than yours :) what can i do.. its good to know ppl like u still exist tho

3:45 PM  
Blogger The Lonely Traveller said...

Kahaan ho aap??

10:58 AM  
Blogger Life Lover said...

isha---> at least you are honest enough to admit that...but pata hai kya "sach mein bahot takat hoti hai yaaaar" (said in a true dharmendar wali ishtyle!!)

lonely traveler---> yeh lo, meine yaha post likha aur aapne knock kiya, ab padho aur batao apne thoughts :)

5:00 PM  

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