Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stereotyping the Contemporary Intellectual - 1

For far too long, we have had stereotypes based only on caste, religion and gender. Though there are substantial reasons (at least) for some of those, we have found more reason to ridicule (rather unfairly) based on the stereotypes, without bothering to verify their accuracy (either way). One exception, though, is the stereotype of pseudo-secularists, which can be completely and wholly justified. So much so that sometimes, the stereotype of pseudo-secularists threatened to be their definitive characteristic, when along came someone to prevent that. Anyhow...

This post is definitely NOT meant to ridicule or offend the "intellectual" of today. Probably a satire, well...more a humorous observation by yours truly of some aspects which have been strikingly "intellectuals", to me (of course). So whoever reads this, please take it with a pinch of salt (as with most of my other posts :D) and a generous dose of light-heartedness.

Since I am a middle-class South-Indian (MCSI), my observations predominantly pertain to middle-class South-Indian "intellectuals".However, a lot of these characteristics might as well be applicable to "intellectuals" from North India too.

Note: Henceforth, I will be referring to contemporary intellectuals as "intellectuals". ;-)
All set? Then let's go . . .

  • No longer middle class - The first thing that should strike you about them is that they are no longer middle class. Having been brought up in an essentially savings-based environment, where we used to think about each and every item before buying, that thought process no longer exists. Yes of course, they do opt for their Honda Civics and Mazda 3's compared to more expensive versions, but their concept of savings gets reduced to big expenses alone (unintentional irony). $1.99 milk ceases to hold relevance once they graduate and get a decent-paying job. Dollars, after all, start speaking, not Rupees. When you go for the $2.99 milk, you are paying just 1 dollar more, but that's a difference of 2 dollars effectively (saving one + losing one). What they lose sight of is the fact that saving the cents might not save much, but losing the savings will count.
  • Rejection of Religion: This, I have especially noticed in MCSI Brahmins. Well, probably educated Indians are moving towards atheism en masse, but nowhere can you observe this trait more prominently than in MCSI Brahmins in the USA. Accepted that there is more exposure to free thinking today, and more of us see more of what the world has and is made of, coming out of our closet. But that should encourage us to think inward, the more outward we go. Alas, our enlightenment is just outward. "Integral humanism" and "agnosticism" are other supplementary adjectives to describe their current mental set-up.
  • Photography Pultography: Yes, a must-have characteristic. Either they own an SLR camera or they talk about shooting brilliant pictures with varying angles of light, etc. Whether they really do take good pictures is a discussion best left for another time.
  • Lingo: I think a separate Urban Dictionary can be created for the words used by Intellectuals. Prominent among these words are - Dude, Junta, F***, No kiddin, Preeshiyet it, Honey, More F***, etc.
  • Kambeni: They generally surround themselves with studs from top schools. Agreed that most of the "intellectuals" are, themselves, from top schools, but in case they don't happen to be from one, they immediately catch hold of some who are and jab all mostly hi-funda stuff which generally falls under any one of the categories mentioned here.
Go to Part 2