Sense of Morality Posted by Pankaj Vaidya on August 2, 2015 at The Unreal Times
Rupesh had just returned home after working abroad for 3 months. His work assignment required him to spend a month each in three Nordic countries: Finland, Norway and Denmark.
Rupesh’s mother wanted him to go and meet Mr. and Mrs. Joshi and seek their blessings before he met anyone else. Mr. and Mrs. Joshi, a pious old couple were distant relatives of Rupesh. Both of them used to give discourses on ethical and moral values. After every such session, the acquaintances who had flocked to hear them would queue up to touch their feet.
As instructed by his mother, Rupesh met Mr. and Mrs. Joshi, greeted them respectfully, touched their feet and took their blessings. He also gave them the gifts he had brought from abroad. Mr. and Mrs. Joshi were happy to see him and started asking about his experiences. The discussion turned to food.
“What! They eat non-vegetarian food including reindeers! Non-vegetarian food is tamasic!” exclaimed Mrs. Joshi, a strict vegetarian, as Rupesh explained the Nordic diet.
Mr. Joshi sneered when he heard that people were not pious and did not worship much.
The topic turned to relationships and the Joshis were horrified when they heard from Rupesh that couples often live in lifelong live in relationships and bring up families without getting formally married. “Such an immoral civilization! They are no better than animals!” exclaimed Mr. Joshi.
Well, thought Rupesh, they are right. One of Joshis’ sons was in an extra martial relationship, but they convinced him to give it up and save his marriage. So their son respected the institution of marriage unlike the Nordic people, he thought.
They once again expressed disgust when they heard that nudity was quite common in the Nordic countries. “Well,” said Mrs. Joshi, “My son was in London for a year and those people are very civilized. There is no such obscenity there.”
True, thought Rupesh. The British were civilized and they colonized and made the entire world civilized.
“Such immoral people,” Mrs. Joshi added.
Makes sense, thought Rupesh. He remembered travelling in London and Paris metros where he had to swipe his ticket at the ticket barrier before the gates opened and he was allowed in. And he remembered seeing some people jumping over the barriers during the off peak hours when the stations were desolated. He wondered if it was because the Nordic countries had no sense of morality that they did not enforce this through ticket barriers. Commuter could swipe voluntarily if they want to.
Just then one of their grand-daughters returned from school. The first thing she did when she entered the house was to touch the feet of her grandparents and take their blessings.
“See, my grand-daughters are so cultured, well-mannered and honest,” said Mrs. Joshi proudly. “This is how we bring up our kids.”
The little one exclaimed, “I again came on half ticket today!”
Mrs. Joshi laughed and explained to Rupesh, “Since she looks so small, she convinces the bus conductor to give her a half ticket. See, she is so smart!”
Mrs. Joshi got Rupesh some snacks to eat.
Mr. Joshi said, “Rupesh, try these snacks. All of these packaged foods are from reputed companies and all are export grade. You will rarely find them in our local shops.”
Mr. Joshi who worked as a Food and Drug Quality Inspector in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation said, “I have always done my work honestly. I never ask anyone for anything and only accept if someone gifts me. It is not nice to refuse something someone is giving you out of affection and break their hearts.”
Referring to the Nordic people, Mr. Joshi said, “Those people don’t have a culture I guess. We have a rich culture and are proud of it.”
“By the way, these people you were with must be very good at English,” Mr. Joshi added after a pause.
“No” said Rupesh. “They use their native language at their workplaces, and in official emails. When speaking to a non-native, they speak English well. But they see English as just as a way of communicating rather than showing off or impressing. If one uses jargon heavy English, they are likely to ask you to speak in a simple language. They can’t speak flowery English and they are alright with it.”
“They are such backward people,” said Mr. Joshi. “I have no respect for people who do not speak English fluently and are alright with it.”
“Our grand-daughters study in convent schools and speak fluent English,” he added.
“When my son was in London, he told us that even beggars there beg in English,” Mrs. Joshi chimed in, proudly.
Rupesh had rarely seen a beggar in a Nordic country and so he was in no position to verify their English skills. So he humbly appreciated the language capability of the English beggars.
Mrs Joshi said: “Our culture teaches us humility. Humility is….”
Just then the phone rang.
Mrs Joshi spoke into the phone, “Hello. Oh Mrs. Kelkar. Yes? Can you please call again after 15 minutes? I am busy. One of my nephews has returned from abroad and has come to specially meet me. He came to meet me first before anyone else. OK, if it’s just 2 minutes then you can talk. What? Savita is not coming today? OK.”
She banged down the phone. “These maids nowadays!” she exclaimed, “They just take leave whenever they want. And how dare she call Mrs. Kelkar and tell her to inform me? She should have called me and told me to inform Mrs. Kelker instead. But then, how can we expect these low class people to understand?”
After a pause, Mrs. Joshi continued, “So, I was saying that our culture teaches humility.”
Mr. Joshi interrupted, “So do people there use cars a lot?”
Rupesh said, “The public transport is so convenient that most people prefer public transport. A single monthly pass can be used on several modes or transport like bus, train, metro, tram and ferry.”
“They are so backward. When one of my nephews was in America, he bought a Mercedes. He said you cannot do without a car in America,” said Mr. Joshi with pride.
“Hey did your mother tell you we just got a new car, Mahindra Scorpio. No one in our society has such a high end car,” said a beaming Mrs. Joshi.
As the discussion proceeded, Mrs. Joshi said, “What! Even women smoke and drink? Our culture is not like that. In our culture, we treat women as Goddesses.”
Suddenly the phone rang again. Mrs. Joshi picked it up.
“What? Mrs. Karve got a grandson?!” she exclaimed, and then sighed sadly. “She is such an evil woman and she got a grandson. Don’t know what sins we have committed that we have only grand- daughters. Who will carry our family name and legacy forward? OK, talk to you later.”
Mrs. Joshi continued, “So Rupesh, what I was saying is our culture teaches us not to get attached to anything, may it be your name, designation or post. Because everything is impermanent. And as I was saying, we Indians treat women as goddesses.”
She is right, Rupesh thought. He had seen women in Nordic countries doing hard jobs like driving heavy trucks and passenger buses all alone. These countries really did not respect women. These countries did not even have reservations for women in government. And more than 40% women got into Parliament without any dynastic or family pedigree. These immoral people have no sense of family at all, he thought.
“Do these people have any idea about our rich culture?” asked Mr. Joshi.
Rupesh answered, “I saw an occasional Iskcon temple and quite a bit of interest in Yoga and meditation.”
“Great,” said Mrs. Joshi. “These people have finally seen the light of the day. Bhagavad Gita narrated by Lord Krishna is a guiding force even for great management gurus.”
“My grand-daughter recently won the first prize in Bhagavad Gita recitation competition. Come here dear!” she called her grand-daughter.
The little one came to her grand-mother.
“Dear, can you recite the 15th chapter of Bhagavad Gita for Rupesh uncle?”
The little one sweetly recited the full chapter.
“That was so sweet,” said Rupesh, enchanted. “What is the meaning?”
The little one turned to her grandma, “Grandma, grandma, what is the meaning of this chapter?”
Mrs. Joshi looked a touch bewildered for a moment, but gathered herself quickly, “Meaning is not important. These shlokas generate good vibrations in our body and mind so it is important to recite them.”
“Do you practice Yoga, uncle?” asked Rupesh.
“No, I do cardio in the gym,” replied Mr. Joshi.
Mrs Joshi, meanwhile, continued: “The western society is a materialistic society. Our society is more spiritual. Remember our teachings. It’s about ethics. ”
“Well, I think that the Nordic people are highly ethical,” said Rupesh. “They are very honest and trustworthy. Rent agreements are finalized just by signing and exchanging on plain paper. They do not discriminate based on profession. They are very humble and do not brag about their houses, cars, wealth or education. The only thing they brag is about how much beer they can drink.”
“Bragging, and that too about drinking beer?! This single statement sums up what a depraved civilization they are!” said Mr. Joshi.
After talking for some more time, a slightly shaken Rupesh left Joshis’ house, wondering what an immoral civilization he had spent his time with, for the last 3 months.
Courtesy: Shivanshu Mehta @ Facebook