By Hardik Rajgor Dec. 31, 2018
It might look like the world is coming to an end, but this is the first day of the new year. We hope the indomitable spirit of “thain thain” will be with you. In the days that follow, if you find yourself in a hopeless place, remind yourself, as the police officer did, to always keep punching.
If you watch Republic TV for a couple of hours every day, you’d think everyone hates everyone else and World War III is inevitable. The newspaper is not a harbinger of good news either: It is full of reports of theft, murder, corporate frauds, lynchings, celebrity divorces, and what Taimur did the previous day. You might still be able to consciously avoid the two mediums, but what about that WhatsApp forward from mum about how Pepsi has been contaminated with the Ebola virus and you should avoid it? Or that link from your news-obsessed friend about yet another train accident in North India or a deadly earthquake in Indonesia that has killed hundreds?
You’d think we are living in the worst time in human history, in ghor kalyug. And you are not to blame. Because the information you are being fed, stories that might not necessarily concern you, are largely toxic.
But if you care to take a break from consuming every piece of news and not spend every waking hour staring at the phone screen, if you wake up and care to go for a walk, you realise the world isn’t coming to an end yet (unless you’re in Delhi, of course). Birds are at their chirpy best, the weather is pleasant, and the old man with a walking stick taking tiny steps in the park fills you with hope. And even though we are deeply disconnected from the real world, chances are you will encounter a generous smile here and a polite “Kaise ho?” there.
Flipping constantly through news channels might convince you that the apocalypse is nigh, which is why you must switch to Star Sports and have a laugh as Parthiv Patel tries to sledge Pat Cummins. Or go back and watch reruns of Sacred Games, BoJack Horseman, or Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma. Which is why it is okay if you miss the next big war movie, but in 2019, be sure to put Pokemon, Lion King, and Dumbo on your must-watch list and relive your childhood. The coming year will also bring a billion people together as we look forward to two big competitions with a knack for the occasional match fixing, the cricket world cup and the general elections. If you think you’ll miss the #CutenessOverload from Taimur Ali Khan, don’t fret, another Royal Baby is expected in 2019 to keep our Facebook and Instagram feeds busy.
The New Year may or may not have something new in store for you. But for starters, don’t look back at 2018 and declare it the shittiest year ever – it was a year of immense hope.
I’m not saying live in your make-believe bubble. A gun attack at a school in the US or the rape of a girl in Kashmir deserves your attention, but the BJP and Congress sparring over a film on an “accidental prime minister” does not. At least not all day, every day. However, if there is no conflict, is it even “newsworthy”? We often forget though, that most places are peaceful most of the time but nobody wants to watch Rajdeep Sardesai shouting out this headline: “IIT Bombay had another calm and peaceful Sunday.” This is as much the truth as a gun attack and we must cherish the quiet. It might seem unbelievable and it definitely doesn’t feel like it, but we live in the most peaceful period in human history (Google it, if you must). At the risk of sounding preachy, the joy is in the small things.
In fact, in our quest to get the perfect bikini bod, secure an admission into Ivy League institutes, or to own a house in Bandra before 35, we often stretch ourselves mentally and physically with unrealistic goals and unattainable New Year resolutions. It is in these difficult moments, that we must remember that Salman Khan is one of India’s biggest actors and leave alone acting he has failed horribly at Being Human. Shashi Tharoor, who completed Phd at 22 and is one of our most prolific politicians, believes Rahul Gandhi should be Prime Minister. And Chetan Bhagat, possibly the most famous English author in India, writes “u” instead of “you” in his emails. Sometimes, life makes no sense and it is best not to fret too much. Sometimes lay back, watch the show, and let the pieces fall where they may.
The New Year may or may not have something new in store for you. But for starters, don’t look back at 2018 and declare it the shittiest year ever – it was a year of immense hope. This is the year that gave us the “Thain Thain” police officer Manoj Kumar. In a hopeless situation, in pitch darkness with a pistol that wouldn’t load, and at the risk of getting shot, the police officer took his chances and fired shots… from his vocal chords. It managed to scare away the suspects. We might have laughed at him but he took his chances and was hailed as a hero by the UP police department for his act of bravery.
Let us enter 2019 carrying the indomitable spirit of police officer Manoj Kumar. There is something uniquely Indian about the thain thain incident – to not giving up even when you find yourself in an absolutely hopeless place and to always keep punching. Maybe that is what life is about sometimes, pointlessly shouting thain thain into an empty sugarcane field at night, and hoping against hope that things work out. Try it out when you find yourself stranded and all alone in the middle of 2019. It is the audacity of hope – and hope is a good thing.