Friday, February 11, 2005

S wanted me to go with him to Pho's party but I didn't. It would be full of folks who do TaKwonDo and he warned me that there was danger of some TKD videos being screened. Now that would have been altogether too much to bear. I have an indifferent-hate relationship with TKD. I did it for a year, mostly on prodding by S and didn't like the combat sessions at all. I detest contact sports, I really don't like the idea of hitting someone to come out winner. But there are times when I really hate TKD, when I see S devoting too much time to TKD at the expense of looking for a job he really needs now.

It's strange how conventional I am when it comes to financial self-reliance. I think it comes out of having grown up in India, and spending my early youth (late teens and early 20s) during an era of considerable economic and institutional change in India. There was much public debate about what the fallout of these changes would be, and much alarmist rhetoric about disappearing economic security and eroding employment opportunities. Additionally, there were a lot of people willing to believe that a great part our art, literature and cultural production would be swept away by the import of Western pop culture. Many of those doomsday prophecies never came about, but I think a lot of it affected me deeply, and made me feel financially and intellectually vulnerable. It took nearly three years in LA for the cultural insecurities to disappear, but I think I still panic when I see someone oblivious to the state of their financial future.

Hence, my other friends can understand and appreciate when S decides to take a break to relax and recover from the effort of a Masters program, but I fly into panic, thinking he is diminishing his job market value. He very correctly argues that it is my Indian background that makes me so nervous about the lack of employment. And I envy him, and envy other Greeks, Americans and Germans for the sense of stability and solid foundations that their upbringing could provide to them. The sense of security that could lead them to stubbornly pursue their dreams inspite of the definite possibility of poverty. Make them risk takers, so attached to their music, their acting, their sailing, their martial arts. I am not saying there aren't enough Indians who are equally determined, but I think a the great Indian middle class is probably the most paranoiac about economic safety.

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