Note: Annoying and preachy post.

"There should be a semi-colon here," she said pointing her finger against my laptop screen. I looked in her sky blue eyes, a shade darker than the sky blue on a clear summer day. We were working on a report that we had to submit in a hour's time. Frankly, I would have liked get the thing over with in 15 minutes and then just relax with a cup of coffee in the cafeteria for the rest 45 minutes day-dreaming. I was in Germany. One could keep staring at the fallen snow - snow can make you think.

"It is not important." I said. Yes, it wasnt. What importance does a semi colon have in a report that is 16 pages long! At first, I thought it was my male ego rejecting an improvement by a girl (who might be a couple of times more intelligent than me), but then when I thought about it objectively - Did the the absence of a semi-colon reduce the quality of the content in any way? - I thought I was correct, the semi-colon isnt important.

"It is important. It might not change the meaning, but it should be there. Also, you have two spaces here instead of one, that has to go too.." she said pointing to the double space between two words.

"If that is a problem, then you can go ahead correct all of this." I am not very accepting to criticism as you can tell. I walked up to the coffee machine and pressed the buttons angrily. She tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear and started working.

After she was done, I was still a little miffed, but she was happy. We just managed to upload the file in time, instead of being 45 minutes early and having all that time to day-dream.

"But see? Now we submitted a report that is perfect in all aspects." she said.

"It was perfect when I wrote it." I can be quite a kid about my work. If I did it, it must be awesome!

She smiled. "Sure, it was." She ruffled my hair. "Now take me out for lunch, Mr.Perfect."

I didnt give up easy, while lunching (is that a word?) I asked her all sorts of questions, the most important being - Why does a missing semi-colon matter? Who cares? Does it help us get a better grade? Does it reduce the quality in any way?

"Not everything should be done for something." She said.

Wow.

"Somethings should be done because they have to be done - to make everything better."

Huh?

It took me 3 years to understand what she meant.

***

India is in a terrible state. In most of our cities the infrastructure is crumbling. One trip to Andheri-Kurla road (or Andheri or Kurla for that matter) in Mumbai and it will make you question your love for Mumbai. One trip to East Delhi and all your beliefs of smooth and wide Delhi roads will disappear. I just name two cities here, but if I start writitng the things wrong with our country, I might end up writing a book (Also if I start writing about the things that I like about India, I might end up writing two books. But that is not the point. The aim is to point out the things we suck at and get that in place)

We love mediocrity. Think about all the times you were told - "Chalega, yaar"  and it made you feel warm comfort, instead of feeling terrible that you were now dependent on someone else's assessment of whatever you have done.

We love mediocrity.Think of all the Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Rohit Shetty movies that we watch. Jawani Deewani made 100 Cr? Where is your intelligence? What about our TV shows? Name 3 good shows on Indian TV?

We love mediocrity. Look at our Politicians. We choose them. Based on caste, mostly. Now some of you who are still reading this, good educated people think that they dont choose on the basis of caste. Well, you do. Maybe not caste, but friendship. If there was a election tomorrow in your office or college, and a friend, not a close friend, but the kind you smile and wave at, is standing in the election, versus a guy who actually has a plan to make the office/college(canteen) a better place, you would choose the guy you smile and wave at. He/she is known, hence safer. That is exactly what the uneducated do.

We love mediocrity. While choosing an umbrella, we choose the cheapest one, not the one built to last. Nothing today is built to last.

But we were not always like this. Did you hear about the floods in Uttarakhand? How all the houses were washed away but a temple built 1300 years ago stood intact? What are we constructing that will stay standing in 3313 AD? The Bandra-Worli sea link? Cuffe Parade? Lutyens, Delhi? The airports? They cant even handle a couple of rainshowers.

If you get time, have a look at the old buildings, british buildings, no, not necessarily british buildings. We unnecessarily put them on a pedestal. Go have a look at the buildings Maharajas built. They lost their kingdoms, in 1800s, had money, but not as much as they did pre 1800s, still, when you have a look at what they built - it was built to last! They were Indians just like you and me! They didnt have blue eyes or blonde hair. They spoke the same language as we do. They had access to the same literature and values as we did.

So what has changed? The power shifted to the people's hands. Now 70% of India's uneducated population took control (It is convenient to blame the British for all our problems, but this problem was particularly caused by them over 150 years of their rule. Sure they introduced school and there were more people who could read and write now, but as you know literacy and education arent synonms.Case in point - Australia ) Now they chose who will rule us. As time passed, India's uneducated population increased. And today it must be close to 90% (again, literacy and education have no relation. See that Goswami guy on TV and you will know what I mean)

Solution?

No immidiate solution. But if this happens - A dynamic leader comes along, well meaning leader, and by some marketing genius manages to sell his idea across states and castes, and sits on the throne - and rules it for the next 5 years, like a king, and not like a minister, things will start changing.

***

I am an eternal optimist. I have faith in the country and its people. But each of us will have to identify where we are missing the semi-colons. Are we submitting our reports too early. Are we doing everything we are supposed to do to make things perfect?

"Somethings should be done because they have to be done - to make everything better." Will we remember that?


The case of the missing semi-colon Or Why Indians like mediocrity?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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11 letters to the editor:

    On June 28, 2013 at 3:32 PM     
    lalalala said...

    Loved it - but there were quite a few typos that went against the messsage you were preaching! Other than that - a perfect post to start the day :) Thanks!

    On June 28, 2013 at 3:32 PM     
    lalalala said...

    Loved it - but there were quite a few typos that went against the messsage you were preaching! Other than that - a perfect post to start the day :) Thanks!

    On June 28, 2013 at 4:36 PM     
    Ally said...

    Couldn't agree more with you on this. Small inefficiencies add up over time to cause an avalanche of disasters. But we do never learn. Great countries do not become great for no reason. There is something to learn from your German friend. (btw what was her reaction on this post? )

    I was just thinking about it. Well not about Indians and all but myself. I always wanted everything to be perfect. But now a days I just don't care. I got this mainly from the people around me (the blame game ;) ).
    I actually prefer an umbrella that lasts actually (if thats possible). I buy stuff that lasts. I will soon lose this urge because of the salary and the prices of the-things-that-last.
    (Have I missed a semi-colon or a colon. I really don't know where I am supposed to put them. So here ;:;:; :). Hope these are enough ;) :))

    @lalalala
    I reread the post and it seems shabbily written.. So many mistakes.. Guess I was distracted.. some grammatical mistakes in there are unpardonable! :)

    @Ally
    She hasnt read it, I guess :)

    @Arpita
    Where are the umbrellas that last? Like that umbrella in Gangs of Wasseypur?

    Preaching is good when the other party has forgotten the line between good and bad, which is the case with even most educated Indians. Leave aside the uneducated ones who will unfortunately never read such stories.

    What India needs are good preachers with strong actions, to help guide the digital Indian youth culture.

    Good post.

    Regards,
    Mrunal

    And why do you feel a necessity to mention its annoying right in the beginning?

    Does it not go against the post's core message itself, that quality stuff matters?

    Regards,
    Mrunal

    On July 7, 2013 at 5:19 PM     
    Anonymous said...

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    On July 8, 2013 at 9:03 PM     
    viralised said...

    well well well.....one of ur best post is here.

    Huh. such a painful truth. there are reasons why china dominates. there are reasons why america rules. there are reasons why Germany impress.

    And there are are many many reasons why we are far behind in spite of so much talent.

    @Mrunal:

    You are right... I hope we do get such people...

    @viralised
    Thank you for such kind words!

    On August 8, 2013 at 12:19 PM     
    Alphonse said...

    This is cool!