Here’s yet another tiny, commonplace dilemma that might not stand too strongly against the hurricane that is the current atmosphere of this city: Do we fight for our rights as middle class people against cycle-rickshaw pullers and insist on paying them what WE think is apt or do we be a bit reasonable in the name of humanity and give them that Rs 5 extra that they insist on at times? Here’s the two sides of this beaten coin – A friend, JNU-groomed, once said to me (after I’d bargained the price of the pedal down by that crucial Rs 5), “why make an argument out of it when you’re not all that poorer and he’s definitly not richer in Rs 5? I give them what they ask for usually, unless it seems like he’s trying daylight robbery. It feels like weighing scales on my conscience otherwise, later those nights. ” Another friend says to me (when I have learnt to beat my guilt over the months and follow this policy for the larger part), “why should we pay him extra? it isn’t about being richer or poorer, it is about what’s right and wrong. and what’s this – we middle class people always get ground in the middle. we pay the taxes, we pay exorbitant rates to these guys…we don’t go crying for more money to our bosses, do we? it doesn’t become a chain of inflation this way!”
Meanwhile, in the name of humanity, Delhi’s being just that bit short of being shiny enough to catch the roving voyeuristic eye of those white people. God seems to be playing Truman Show, India being Truman in his last scene, pushing him to the limits just to see if it’ll quit HIS world and go looking for a brave new one? WILL IT? I don’t think so…disappointment in the air. not an appetising whiff.