Synopsis: Despite today’s conveniences, life has become complicated. In contrast, the ‘sandwich generation’ had little conveniences, but life was uncomplicated. Technology has made people slaves of instant gratification, depriving the mind the romance of hunger born out of scarcity.
When my generation was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, we had little choices. We lived in a hopeful India, not an abundant India.
A telephone connection took years to come after booking. We had to book our train tickets three months in advance. We used to visit our cousins in other cities, or awaited them, and not take off on exotic vacations. There were no air conditioned trains.
We had to stand in queue for advance booking of the next big Bollywood release. For new clothes, we went to our friendly neighbourhood tailor. We did not know anything about branded clothing. For groceries, we had an account with our local kirana store guy.
Colour television came to India only in 1982. We had only two channels – DD and DD Metro. We became couch potatoes every Sunday to watch a Hindi movie. As a kid, I often used to deliver letters in the post boxes – the red icon that existed all across India. They are extinct now.
As kids, we played outdoors at the drop of a hat. We played lagori, cricket, football, dabba ice-spice. Those days, we played so much that nobody lectured us on importance of physical activity or going to the gym, as few existed, if any. Friends were our world. We had friends everywhere – in school, in college, in our society, in neighbouring buildings. Unlike today’s social media friends, we knew them personally and interacted a lot.
Cut to today’s millennial generation. The energy is totally different. Though I have great nostalgia about my growing up years, given a choice, I would love to be born as this generation. Talent, energy, opportunities, choices, intelligence flow abundantly for this generation. But they seem to lack perspective – about a bygone India. This is critical because every generation should know how their parents’ childhood was. History is the foundation of the present and future. Having a sense of history makes you sensitive towards sacrifices people have made to make this world a better place.
To sensitise my daughter on how her parents lived, I wrote a book `Dear Diksha – A father’s letter to his teenage daughter’ as a surprise gift for her sixteenth birthday (https://www.amazon.in/Dear-Diksha-fathers-teenage-daughter-ebook/dp/B00RI9I7FG/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=dear+diksha&qid=1561087125&s=gateway&sr=8-1).
When I compare the two eras, it is clear that we had very little convenience, but our life was uncomplicated. We did not hear of students taking their lives because they scored less. We did not hear of corporate stress, because people preferred government jobs. We had no idea what communication through technology was. Yes, we eventually did get a telephone connection, but it often posed technical problems.
Today, we have everything going for us in terms of convenience. From the convenience of a mobile to a chauffeur-driven car appearing at your doorstep within minutes is something we never even dreamt of. We reveled in Hollywood movies, which showed life and imagination in a far distant land, rather than believing that our life could ever get easier. Going abroad was out of bounds for us. Few believed they could ever get their passports stamped.
Despite today’s convenience, life has become complicated. There is unhappiness in terms of relationships, jobs, money, despite a plethora of choices. Technology has made people slaves of instant gratification, depriving the mind the romance of hunger born out of scarcity. With everything getting fulfilled at the click of button, the sense of purpose and longing has disappeared. The ability to live and thrive in the present is a lost art.
I am not being another crib uncle who did not get all these as a kid. I am just trying to sensitise people – across generations – that do not allow convenience to complicate. Leverage the power of convenience to enable you to grow your inner potential. Build resilience. My generation, which I call as the Sandwich Generation, as we are in between what our parents wanted us to be and our children expect us to be – has an enviable quality – Resilience. We know the value of the conveniences of life. We know what it means to see the value of money appreciate or depreciate – depending on how you see it.
We have had tough lives. Many of us tasted professional success well into our late 30s or 40s. So we cannot understand the ways of the fast paced generation. Our primary role now is to recognise the shift in parenting and leadership dynamics. We listened to our parents, seriously, we did. But today, we are answering our children, which is both fascinating as well as enamouring.
Let’s do a Family Pack. Let the three generations get together – Grandparents, parents and grandchildren – and do a conclave on what life was, is and needs to be. It’s the need of the hour.
About The Author: Hariharan Iyer is a man with many talents – Motivational Speaker, Corporate Trainer, Author, Reiki Grandmaster, Professional Anchor. He has a registered trademark for the moniker Enter-Trainer. An ex- journalist, he brings alive his unique ideas through a spread of writing. Besides books, he writes a blog BolHarryBol on blogspot.com and has also published over 50 articles on LinkedIn. His most celebrated book is More Than Just Papad.