Let me start with a cliché: New Year resolutions are broken sooner than later. It is exactly like the proverbial drunkard’s promise unto himself that today is the last day. “Tomorrow onwards I am going to be a different person. I will have a healthy life. I will eat moderately. I will sleep early and wake up early. I will keep a lot of positive attitude towards like. I will not get angry. I will not beat my wife (husband). I will hit gym. I will spend more time with my family. I will spend less time in social media. I will make real friends. I will …I will.. I will..” Remove the word ‘drunkard’ from the initial statement and keep our own image there, things will fall in place. We never come to know how 365 days run with us, taking us along, and at times overtaking us. I would like to talk about the possible resolutions and workable decisions that one could think about on this New Year eve.
In fact who said drinking liquor or smoking tobacco is a bad habit? We know that the companies that make these products exhort us to be the consumers (of these). But the governments tell us not to consume at all. There are rules and regulations for the selling and buying of these products and rules and regulations are always meant for restricting people from consuming harmful things. I don’t get into a moral discourse on whether alcohol consumption is good or bad. But I would like to say this much: If you want to stop drinking or to drink moderately then start it now. If you want to quit smoking do it now. Many say, it is difficult to quit things that easily because they have become a habit. Habit is the catchword here. Habit is man-made while nature is not man-made. Human beings are naturally capable of being intoxicated. That’s why there are poets, artists, writers, fashion designers, film makers, musicians, actors and revolutionaries in the world. They are intoxicated by both life and their own need to express. All what is taken externally are part of habit formation than natural outcome of living.
In fact, I do not consider drinking or smoking as vice. But I could stop both when I decided one day. People say it you need will power. You don’t need will power to stop drinking or smoking. You just need to shift the perspective. If you love everything natural to you, including your spouses and kids, friends, houses, garden and so on, then you do not need any other diversions in this world. You may call it selfishness. But drinking or smoking is the real selfish activities. With those activities none other than you derives pleasure. When you sing, or draw, or write a piece of poem, all those who could have a look at it would enjoy your creativity. Then you may ask why everyone drinks. Everyone drinks because they think that they will be excluded from an imaginary world of pleasure if they do not drink. A scientist is not seen drinking while at work. A doctor does not come to the operation theatre drinking. Creative people drink because they believe that it helps to say things without social constraints. But if you could liberate yourself from all social constraints then why should you drink at all.
Anyway, I do not want to be a moral preacher for anyone here. But what I could say is that I am not excluded from the world of pleasure only because I keep myself away from drinking, smoking or partying. You may say that I have turned spiritual which most of the forty plus men do as they find out health problems. I have a very considerable amount of contempt for the ‘spiritual seekers’ for the sheer belief that one need not ‘seek’ your spirit because it is right there with you; you just need to open your eyes and see it. I detest the idea of going to hills for peace for I can stand right in the middle of a mall and feel absolutely peaceful and happy. I hate the idea of traveling for gaining experience because when I read a book I could travel the world that the author shows me. I do not think it is pertinent to attend some Kumbh Melas to feel or know Indian spirituality. If I were photographer I would have definitely thought of going to capture the demented, perverted and the hypocrites there. Also I might have come across real gods too. Who knows? However, I have been to holy places but never did I think that I needed to go there to gain peace. May be I will go there if I find that I could get food and shelter without working for it and a good computer with high speed internet connection. I will be perfectly okay there too.
It is my humble suggestion to all the artists in India that they all should make the following resolutions (you may break it but try it before really leaving it aside): 1) Every artist, except senior citizens, differently abled and also ill in certain way, in this country should decide that they should drink water from home and carry water from home. They all should take the vow that they will not buy a bottle of water from the shops (if there is no other way, one could). India is a country where water is given for free. But now in the urban spaces (also in most of the small towns and developing villages) you could not get a glass of water for free. The decision should not be for defeating the companies that sell bottled water but for reiterating the belief that we have the human kindness in us to carry water with us and also share it with those who need it.
2) The artist friends should also decide to leave their cars and scooters in their garages and use public transport. The abovementioned categories are exempted. It is not just about Delhi; anywhere in India. Walk if possible, pedal around if need be, use public transportation it the first two options are not viable. As travelling by vehicles has become a habit, like drinking one finds it difficult to kick it. But it is not nature. In the beginning there were no cars and buses. People walked. The pathways and roads all over the world that we see today as huge highways are the same places where primitive men walked and cleared the paths.
3) The artist friends should also take a vow that however rich they are, they should avoid eating fancy food outside. Once in a while yes. The idea of weekends is the import from the western countries where the working people were treated ruthlessly by the systems so that they wanted weekends to unwind. In India people are not so hard pressed to work. In winters you could see people basking under sunlight in the lawns not in the pubs. Eating and drinking synthetic food or exotic food again is a habit; it is not nature. None ate pizza a few year before. Eating pizza is not a problem but making it at home may be more interesting. Many youngsters drink soft drinks and chips even after they know that it is unhealthy. They risk their lives just to appear cool. It is foolishness.
4) I request all our friends to make a vow unto themselves that they would promote the local grocer than the super stores in the malls. The local grocer sells the same thing. The local vegetable vendor sells the same thing. They look unimpressive because they are operating from the small shops. But if you start buying from they will start stocking what you need. You can save your petrol, effort and money. The local man or woman would serve you with a smile. I go to the local shop. I need not even say anything. He picks up the things that I want and I need not ask how much for I exactly know how much does it costs. We exchange a smile and feel good about it. Promote everything local. If you want ‘desi’ things go to a Khadi bhandar; you will get everything you want for affordable price.
To do all these, one needs to think a bit deeper. The primary lesson is this: We are not that important. We are just like any other being on this earth. We do not have any privilege. If we believe we are better than the other, then it is only in a limited context. Take a metro coach or a bus. The man or woman sitting next to you may be a Sahitya Akademi prize winning novelist but with a latest book in your hand you may think that you are one supreme being on a metro ride. Every human being is important in certain ways; the unfortunate thing is that most of them do not realize it. Instead of recognizing their own importance and relevance in the larger scheme of things, they try to accumulate all what they are not, which is called habit. That’s why people think that if they eat out, shop big, travel by big cars, pretend importance, do a lot of socializing and so on, they will be seen/taken important and seriously. It is foolishness. The moment one recognizes that we are just one of the beings in this universe, the world will definitely look much simpler and beautiful than ever. Let our New Year resolution be this that we are going to be very simple people with no pretensions. Are we ready?
PS: Once you become simple, all the complaints in the world cease to exist. How can you complaint about the things you yourself have discarded?