We Are All Banias Now

At 70, our idea of success is as boring as being rich. Where are the rebels, the artists, the misfits?

9/1/2016 4:03:31 PM
written By : Pritish Nandy Print

I was born in an era that gave us many choices. I also grewup in an era that made all those choices respectable. So even though our parents may have wanted us to be doctors or engineers, we became poets and musicians, artists and rebels. Audacity was the hallmark of our generation. The option was always ours, to chase the romance of rebellion or to pursue a hard-nosed career. Yet I had friends, many friends who stumbled through life, unsure of what they wanted to do and that was fine, perfectly fine. No one judged you if you were a failure and no one gave a damn if you went out and made a lot of money. Either way it was good.

Some years back I bumped into one of my schoolmates. Vijay was a topper in class. But, like many of us, he was not exactly happy with that. In fact, he was embarrassed. So he and I decided (in class 9) to escape the tyranny of trigonometry and run away to see the world. At the last minute I chickened out, worried about the heartbreak it would cause my retired father. But Vijay had no father and he was braver than me; so he went ahead. The cops finally caught up with him in Agartala and brought him back. He returned to class, continued to do well. On a visit to Bangalore, many years later, a friend of mine and I stopped by a friendly looking food cart only to discover an older Vijay, now donning a stained chef hat, cooking and selling street food. What was endearing was the pride with which he was doing it. In the evening, he took us home to his wife and kids, all very proud of him. He has since migrated to the US and drives a truck there. It fulfils his lifelong passion for seeing new places every day.

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