Deccan Chronicle
Lifestyle

On the contrary: Good company

Deccan Chronicle| Ajit Saldanha

Published on: September 24, 2017 | Updated on: September 24, 2017

Tempers were heated and the customarily urbane wealth manager and IT honcho engaged in the discussion' were at it with a vengeance.

The problem, as most ageing hippies would testify, is that working on looking cool is as distinctly uncool as the Blue Whale challenge (Photo: Representational Image)

The problem, as most ageing hippies would testify, is that working on looking cool is as distinctly uncool as the Blue Whale challenge (Photo: Representational Image)

‘I'm telling you these pseudo international schools are the biggest problem: kids don’t grow up rough and tough, like we did, they’re such total wimps. They think the world owes them a living — they don't appreciate anything.’ Tempers were heated and the customarily urbane wealth manager and IT honcho engaged in the ‘discussion’ were at it with a vengeance. They were foaming at the mouth and while the narrative has been sanitized to suit a family newspaper, let the record reflect that the expletives flying around were more in consonance with a locker-room than a society cocktail party.  The argument, as the alert reader may have deduced by now, revolved around elite schools and their role in raising the chandni chammmach children of the haves.

Tom Wolfe in his magnum opus, ‘A Man in Full,’ wrote: "These damned schools were producing a new kind of privileged heir: a boy utterly world-weary by the age of sixteen, cynical, phlegmatic and apathetic around adults, although perfectly responsible and maddeningly polite. A boy inept at sports, hunting, fishing, riding or handling animals in any way. A boy embarrassed by his advantages and desperate to hide them, eager to dress in ghetto rags and a baseball cap worn backward, a boy facing the world without any visible signs of the joy of living…"

Projecting a cool, laid-back image is a major life goal for GenY. The problem, as most ageing hippies would testify, is that working on looking cool is as distinctly uncool as the Blue Whale challenge. Too many false notes are struck in the process: it's like using a Benson and Hedges to roll a joint. Or taking a Lexus down to Mosque Road to eat paya: the waiters look at you like you need your bheja examined. Not that any of today's squeaky clean geeks are likely to head there in a hurry given that they are way too busy with their start up, pronounced "stordup."

Many moons ago, a planter couple who shall remain nameless, decided to give their little darling, aged fifteen, a glimpse of how the other side lives by taking him to Mumbai on the Dadar Express, 3rd Class. As can be imagined, the comfort levels were somewhat less than those available in Gstaad or Regent's Park, London, which were their usual stamping grounds. It was the husband's idea: "I’ll toughen him up, make a man out of him," he proudly predicted and those fateful words were replayed ad nauseum by his wife all through the holiday and for several years after they returned. Numba one son couldn't go potty after his fellow travellers — good sturdy sons and daughters of the soil — had done their business. In fact he couldn't go potty for a week after their journey, which drove mummy potty. She, in turn, drove daddy potty and …you get the picture? This sad state of affairs necessitated calling in a proctologist and a psychiatrist, although not necessarily in that order. In our day they simply pinched your n
ose, upended you and poured about a quart of castor oil down your throat. You swallowed uncomplainingly and became ‘astonishingly regular’ in seconds, since the final solution was the dreaded enema.

But its' not just the fastidiousness of today's youth that's annoying; it’s their fake piety.  I recently read the "Gen-Y" column in a local rag where someone named Shailesh was giving us too much information about some dreary club he had founded. ‘Our basic idea, Aunty, is to spread perfect harmony and love among the youth of the world…and to the public through the youth.’ Yeech. This hardcore halo polisher then bored us to tears with way too much information on his technical discussion forum, his collaboration for ‘body-shopping’ with XYZ Technologies and his liaison with the Duke of Edinburgh's programme for holistic personal development. My old pal Raymond would have sorted him out, "Maccha Shailesh, my ego won’t allow me to body shop, it’s a bad habit which leads to penicillin shots, instead try and meet the right women."

Shailesh’s bestie, Saurabh, wants to go to every school and college in the country and ‘do whatever he can to make the youth understand their responsibility towards society.’ Lighten up, dude. Can you imagine the plight of poor Shailesh and Saurabh's parents? If they ever achieve grandparent status, they will never be able to wag a reproving finger or reminisce fondly about the sowing of wild oats. Instead they will have to entertain the other greybeards at their retirement home with, ‘My Shailu used to be such a goody two shoes when he was young; but it wasn’t his fault, he fell into good company.’

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