Earlier last week, I had taken a trip from Chennai to Bangalore to be present for my cousin’s admission into Engineering through the ComedK tests (strange name, I didn’t know what it meant, till last Sunday either. And it’s not relevant to what follows). Not that my company helped him in anyway. Who am I kidding? I had possibly gone to Bangalore just to chill – meet my family, friends and have a good time. And I did.
While at the counselling centre though, something interesting happened.
We had decided to take a short tea break in the canteen, before my cousin’s process began at 10 am. While I gorged on the hot idlis and vadas on offer, members from my extended family (4 of them) who were also present for the proud occasion (admission into a reputed engineering college is a big big deal in India, and my cousin had done well in his tests, so surely a proud occasion) started discussing where my cousin (this is another one) would finally get posted in her job. All in jest.
And that’s when the conversation meandered to how most of the Tech jobs in India (she is a software engineer) are based out of Bangalore and Hyderabad. And then it meandered to which city is a better place to live in.
That’s when my cousin remarked, rather loudly and decisively, “I will never take up a job in Hyderabad. That city has too many members from a certain community.”
Gosh, it takes time to stop mincing your words, even when you are wearing the cloak of anonymity.
She said, “That city has too many Muslims.”
Thankfully, everyone in the family was taken aback by this sudden outburst of a communal opinion. Everyone chided her – not for what she had said, but how loud she had been in voicing an unsavoury thought. Were they worried about someone taking offence to what she had said and creating a scene? Probably. Did they really care about the opinion, per se? Possibly. If so, the way they reacted to what she said – ducked, looked around and giggled – didn’t betray any secular credentials.
I did remark to the other cousin (the one for whose admission we had assembled) – “Since when did she start being so communal?”
And the lovely chap that he is, youngest on the table, he frowned and said, “It runs in the family.”
I didn’t really admonish her for having such an opinion. I couldn’t. It would have been unsavoury.
This incident hasn’t left me over the past 10 days. Not just what my cousin said, but also how calmly I reacted to the same. Two years back, maybe even a year back I would have taken strong objection to what she had said and reacted sharply.
Have I mellowed down as a person? Am I not as secular as I used to be? Has my Facebook persona, which has gotten fed up and tired of trying to argue with what I believe to be communal opinions, slowly seeped into my real-life persona too?
Is it even possible to be a different person on Facebook, and a different one in real life?
To say the least, these thoughts got me worried. On an ongoing basis, I have hordes of opinions on political issues. I don’t voice most of them on Facebook, averse to getting into mudslinging battles with people, most of whom are good friends and relatives in real life. And despite the thickening of skin with age, I still am a fairly sensitive person who gets rattled very easily.
Over the months, I have also started having self-doubts about my opinions. There have been a few occasions when I have shared news stories from mainstream media outlets, and friends/relatives have pointed out that my outrage is selective and hence nothing but political propaganda.
I have been too egoistic to tell them that that’s not the case. And then I ask myself, ‘Is it not?’
Self-doubt is crippling.
Hence, The Political Commentator. Here, in anonymity and possibly in solitude, I intend to dissect my political opinions. Though, I am also parallely contemplating sharing this link with a few people I would want to share my thoughts with. Do I ever have a steady opinion? (There was something interesting I had read/written about hypocrisy once – will share it as a comment, in a bit.)
Let’s, rather let me see where it takes me.
PS: Every time I wrote Facebook, I meant social media, watsapp groups included.
PPS: I don’t have a job, rather have quit one a few months back. So buying a website name for Rs 4000 seems a little stupid, a luxury I should have avoided. I am having second thoughts about even starting this website.
Man is by nature a political animal