This December, marriage season is on in Pune city with full force. Few years back, people used to get married by thousands at the peak of the summer. The season has apparently shifted to December. During winter, no doubt, the ladies can wear those heavy brocaded saaree’s and wear heavy gold jewelery with most comfort and men can shine off in their new 3 piece suits. It is true that a marriage ceremony in winter is more enjoyable on any day. Recently I was invited to a marriage. The invitation card itself was so elaborate and was designed with such pomp, that it was possible to visualize the wealthiness of both families. The invitation card was in three parts. One for the main marriage ceremony, one for the Mehendi and the third one looked bit different so it drew my rather close attention. This invitation was a personal invitation from the bridegroom and the bride and it was for a cocktail party, two days prior to the main marriage ceremony. I felt rather odd, that the young couple was inviting friends and relatives of all ages, for a drinks and dance party. Since I was not interested in either of the two, there was no point in my going there. Yet somehow, the invitation remained firmly in my memory.
I recollected another incidence that happened about sixty years ago. Dr. Shankar Karve, the eldest son of one of the great social reformer of India, Dr. D,K, alias Annasaheb Karve, who was a medical practitioner and lived in Mombasa, Africa, was visiting India. This small incidence happened in the house of Dr. Shankar Karve’s younger brother Dinkar. In the sitting room, number of people, who had come to see visiting Dr. Shankar Karve, were having a pleasant conversation with him. I was a school going lad then. I was sitting along with one or two other kids in a corner and watching the proceedings. Dr. Shankar Karve, whu must have been in his sixties, was smoking and was explaining something. He suddenly extinguished the cigarette and threw it in the ash tray. When someone asked him about it, he invited the attention of that person to a side portico, from where, his father Annasaheb Karve, who must have been in his Nineties then, was slowly walking into the room with a walking stick in his hand.
I feel that these two incidences are at the two ends of a social spectrum. On one side, we have a sixty years old, eminent medical practitioner, extinguishing his cigarette, because it may not look proper to smoke in front of his 90 years old father, and on the other side, we have this young couple in their twenties, inviting friend and relatives of all ages, for a dance and drinks party. I first thought that this great contrast was an indicator of the social changes that are taking place in the Indian society. However after giving some more thought to it, I feel now that it is really the Generation gap and nothing else.
Many questions arise in my mind. How does extinguishing a cigarette really means paying respect to elderly? Or how is it? that inviting elderly people for a drinks and dance party, would mean that the younger host is showing disrespect. Who decides? which one of these two actions is proper or improper. The new generation, which demands full transparency in all things now, might consider the act of extinguishing a cigarette as sort of Hippocratic behavior or double standards. Similarly if everyone can enjoy and have fun at a drinks and dance party, why not let elders participate in that? In most of the tribal rituals, social drinking is a mandatory ritual. So if it is extended to so called urban societies,what is wrong in that?
I can not say that there is any basic fault in this line of thinking. Yet it may be difficult to make people from older generation to accept it. This is the generation gap. Every older generation feels that the things done by the new generation are wrong. This is just an example from that.
I think that this generation gap would continue for generations to come. Only the incidences might be different. Who knows?
7 January 2012