By Ananya Roy
Excuse the onomatopoeia, but I've been waiting unsuccessfully for a BEST bus in the midst of heavy Mumbai rains for over an hour, and I think I deserve a little intellectual respite.
Let's recap; you were about six years old when you first grappled with the word engineering/medical/law and proceeded to hear it with rapid frequency through dinner conversations, intrusive neighbours and virtually anyone who wasn't typecast as a progressive hipster brainwashed on Western philosophy. You internalized the theory that engineering/medical/law equates to a fulfilling life, and chased the proverbial middle-class dream with every fibre of your being. Cut to fifteen years later; you're an adult with no notion of real estate, taxes or public transportation. You probably think you can drive, but you crashed into a milk van once out of the two times you attempted without supervision.
You've watched a gazillion Surf Excel commercials in between World Cup telecasts, but you're still not sure if you're doing laundry right. With all of this going on, thank goodness you've got a stable job to make you feel like less of a failure. Just how ingenious are you in this corporate life, just how far do you think your tech start-up will take you? It's the third Tuesday of the month, and your back is against the wall with 52 lines of unsuccessful code. You've gotten no further now than you had three weeks ago, when you emblazoned this project with novice passion, yet your enthusiasm is now curbed to several notches below. How did 52 lines of code beat you? They shouldn't; they can't. You're smart, they keep telling you that. You got into one of the top private universities in the nation. All you really learnt was labour, all you internalized was grit. They'll encourage the innovation until it gets uncomfortable-too ambitious, too real. Too futuristic, they'll say. Five cups of coffee and stale rice with a stiff curry for lunch keep you awake. The eggless mango cake they brought in for your coworker's birthday was probably the highlight of your day. How did you end up here, you keep asking yourself. An hour's walk in the morning through the stench of spoiled fruit across a slum may lead you to a comfy air-conditioned office complex but mind you, the drudgery is no different.
What is it all for, then? Maybe one day you can sustain it all for that which you desire. Maybe one day, when they feel you've profited them enough, they'll give you a break. Then you can run off into the woodlands and build yourself a treehouse, make yourself an avocado toast as you record bird noises. Or whatever it is that has caught the baby boomers' latest fancy.
You'll return home on the weekends and play a tune to calm your nerves. Maybe it reminds you of a road trip you took aeons ago when you'd forgotten what it felt like to always have something to worry about. You watch your contemporaries live their passion and cry injustice to your circumstances, but they have fears of their own. Maybe there's a reset button that could help you, little by little, if not all the way through. Maybe if you started each day with an avocado toast listening to bird noises before you set out to make your own in the world, life would get a little lighter, love would come a little easier, and who knows, maybe you'll find yourself whipping up a soulful essay waiting for the bus to arrive.
Note: Avocado toast is just a metaphor for your true passion in life, the author holds no bias and believes all toasts should be treated equally.