India: THE END OF PATIENCE


 

 

By Pritish Nandy, Mumbai Mirror

As we enter a new year, it’s amusing to see how everyone is catering to impatience. In the recent past we have seen many new brands (as well as many new online marketplaces) trying to break through hoary loyalties, pull away buyers. But now consumer impatience (or disloyalty, depending on how you see it) has become a widespread global phenomenon. Big brands are paying a huge fortune to retain loyalty while new brands are spending an even larger fortune to seduce buyers away. Choice is the new addiction. And a new generation is ODing on it.

Gadgets are simplifying at such an alarming rate that our skills are shrinking. The dumb is about to inherit the earth. Newspaper stories are becoming shorter so that readers don’t run out of breath reading them. Magazines are going more pictorial. The two and a half hour movie is dead.

Multiplexes demand 90 minute movies so they can cram in more shows and not test their viewers’ patience. Even ads are getting shorter. So are trailers. Books too. No one reads Ulysses any more. War and Peace has been out of print for a while.

Fewer people go to classical music concerts. No, not because they don’t like Kishori Amonkar anymore but because classical music takes too much time to warm up and in a formal environment like that they simply can’t walk in and out when they want. A lounge bar is simpler. Go, get a drink and listen to someone simpering on the mike about how love short-changes us all. If the bottle blonde bores you, stroll out and get some air. Conversations are getting shorter. Work deadlines are harder. No one gives you two weeks to complete a task. The new deadline is 48 hours, unless of course you work for the Government.

More people are taking vacations, true. But vacations are getting shorter, quicker, crammed with lots of stuff to do. The laidback month long break on the French Riviera or the Amalfi coast, taking in the sun and the sin, has long gone out of fashion. People go on short treks, brief cruises, four days to Masai Mara to see wildlife that took us an entire life time to engage with.

Marriages are getting briefer. My first one did not work and yet lasted for eight years. Today, a marriage that doesn’t work doesn’t last beyond eight days. One of the two pack up and go. Lawyers do the rest. Relationships are even more short-lived. I Love You becomes F*** You in less than 48 hours simply because two people find it difficult to share a bathroom, leave alone the bedroom and an entire apartment. The moment of sexual conquest, whoever gets it first, is the peak point. Once that’s over, the magic vanishes. Impatience becomes the invisible minefield. You may be prepared for the worst but the worst is not bad enough. Not unless you have experienced a love that’s putrefied.

People don’t grow gardens any more. Not because of absence of space for space is something any clever architect can create. You can too, if you want to. Gardens don’t need only space. They require patience to create. People hate pets who try their patience. That’s why you see so many abandoned dogs and cats on the street. Kids you don’t need to abandon. They run away on their own these days. And there are more children running away today than ever before because their parents feel tested. And why do parents feel tested? Very often because their kids are being measured against other kids, and their weaknesses pointedly questioned. Everyone wants an Einstein at home. No one realises Einstein wasn’t created in a Kota coaching class. If they can’t get an Einstein, they want a KBC winner, someone who comes back home with a Rs 7 crore bounty and makes the neighbours green with envy. A few still yearn for a Sachin but who has the patience these days to nurture a Sachin till he makes his first billion?

Everyone wants to be rich. Instantly. So tenures in jobs are getting shorter while hiring sites are making more and more money as everyone’s always looking for a job that will pay more. A site that used to sell junk is now posting jobs. The long service certificate has vanished from every office and the perennial job hopper is as rampant as the bed hopper. We are like rabbits now. Hopping, hopping, hopping our way to nowhere. For nothing satisfies us any more.

We are always on the lookout for new highs. Impatience is the addiction of our time. We constantly demand more not because we need more. We demand more because we are now genetically coded to demand more. Every season there’s a new buy on the shop window. The new consumerism feeds off our impatience. As does the new politics.

Modi won a thumping majority and seized the imagination of the nation. Even before he could settle in, AAP grabbed Delhi and cut the BJP down to size. Even before Kejriwal can set his house in order, the media went for him. Nobody’s safe for long. Every day is a new headline, a new battle, a new outrage. Even before you can anticipate what will happen tomorrow, the day after grabs you by the collar. Nothing is predictable any more except change. Change inspired by our impatience. This year, let’s drink to that.

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