About eight years ago, deracinated by the compulsion of living in a united family, I was plonked in a posh residence colony in Noida without any pageantry. The colony boasted of hosting some of the country’s who is who- an illustrious academician, prominent politicians, a world renowned author, eminent judicial experts and some distinguished and famed figures of the NCR. Even more celebrated is the club of the sector with exquisite amenities. Little did I know that merely the fact that I am a resident of the sector and importantly, not even holding a membership to the club, could attract many of my classmates to eagerly befriend me on seeking admission to one of the most popular chains of public schools in India. While introducing themselves to me, the schoolmates did take pain to reveal the vanity in declaring their membership in the sector’s high-flying club. I did politely acknowledge their conceited argument hiding my absolute befuddlement. Perhaps, my perplexity was relatively less in magnitude compared to their utter bewilderment on hearing that I did not own a membership to the noble club in spite of being consecrated with the fortune to be a resident of this sought after sector. It does not really matter if you have been adorned with Padma Award or Magsasay Award and if you have grabbed an Academy Award or Man Booker Prize, unless you have a membership to this club, you rather not flaunt your achievement.
Fast-forwarding those years, I am still residing in this posh sector after a brief stint with another residential area within Noida. No doubt, this sector indubitably falls on the top of my priority list for habitation for its serene environment. I suppose anyone who has visited this place would agree on that. As of today, I still do not possess a membership to the celestial club of the sector. I should sound illogical and maverick to my neighbours here. Although, I am a humour enthusiast and have been rated slightly above average on my aptitude for mimicking (certainly not swanking), I am unable to feign to be an ardent elite-hypocrite after a point. Moreover, I am not financially sound to fulfil the prerequisites needed to be a member of the club. I will have to insist that my Mom own a long car with a chauffeur to ride me from my apartment to the club, which is just a few steps away and then be a pro-active member calling for less use of energy and to follow steps to prevent climate change. I should be a youth well educated, at least must be enrolled to a reputed institution and then be able to stylishly and shamelessly throw non-biodegradable wastes on to the neatly kept road outside the club’s entrance. The young members who use the expensive gym and other club facilities do not hesitate to buy ice creams and roasted corns from poor vendors without paying them immediately. Kindly do not mistake me for those who stand with a moral stick in hand. I strongly feel that austerity is something that should not be forced down someone’s throat. The democracy of India grants full liberty to any Indian to live the life he or she can afford as far as the individual is not violating any of the laws. I am bemused at the lack of civic sense in people whose daily routines feature the club. The members chatting in Hin-glish do not bother to apologize as they would almost walk over you in a shop to make a purchase. I was captivated at their ability to embark on a verbal conflict on an issue of parking their grand vehicles on the street that could potentially affect your hearing. Something that differentiates them from other road rages in the NCR is their fluent English swearing. The tittle-tattling of my neighbours almost causes me to faint even though I too have a talent for humorous gossips.
That is not all that I have on my neighbourhood. The (in)famous community magazine of our sector deserves a special mention. One would be overwhelmed to witness the journalistic skills of the magazine editors. The grammatical errors on the magazine may make you nauseous. The contemptuous fact is the manner in which they attack a fellow resident. I would be surprised if a defamation case has not been filed against the editors. The blatant accusations raised against an individual or family are often shuddering. The victims cry foul and dirty politics within the residential sector. The sector has displayed great social commitment by organizing a march to a fellow-resident’s house for feeding street dogs rather than making genuine attempts to enter into a dialogue with the neighbour. The latest jolt to me came in the form of a finger pointing by a sector occupant to her neighbour for stealing her outfit, when it was mistakenly delivered at the ‘thief’s’ home after laundry. Although, she had the bit of the etiquette not to reveal her neighbour’s name, she bountifully performed her duty toward the magazine to mortify the accused by mentioning the house number. I would not make a claim that such issues should not be reported through the community magazine, which does have its own gains. What I would suggest is to maintain decorum in coverage. This should not cost heavily.
The tragedy of hypocrisy is that the socially accepted norm of plush residential areas reflecting the aspiration of many who wish to lead genteel lives is disillusioned. When you live in such a hypocritical community, you are exposed to the callous and bigoted mindset of people that are swept under the carpet of their material richness. I admit that this is not the case with all the residents but of course, the majority.
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