There are very few things that can get me worked up to the point where I can break anything I strike, including my hand, and with each passing festival, I am finding it more and more difficult to buy health insurance!
There was a time – I wasn’t alive then; even my dad says he has only heard of that glorious era – when festivals and celebration were exactly as the dictionary defined them. People took time out from their daily rut to visit the near and dear ones: gifts were presented with much a personal touch and, more importantly, true affection. People stepped out of their houses to greet and welcome neighbours and friends into their homes and there was a true sense of warmth and enjoyment. Festivities lasted for almost a week around the day of the festival itself.

Slight fast forward, time starts moving faster – seconds aren’t what they used to be – and people get busier. They find themselves with lesser time to go through the “routine” of visiting people on joyous occasions. But they were too polite to completely over-ride this step. So the whole thing was shortened in time. Visits to relatives became more like pit stops – touch-and-go if you may – with plastic perfection and synchronised slickness. It wasn’t too long before festivals came to become synonymous with tawdry cardboard boxes with the gaudiest of decorations and most bizarre of ornamentation holding an assortment of biscuits/dry-fruits/both. It’s around somewhere then that I was born and I always thought that the adults enjoyed playing a twisted version of passing the parcel with all these boxes. Receiving them with such smiles and forwarding them with impossibly bigger ones to other unsuspecting recipients. A few people were sneaky enough to leave their visiting cards inside the boxes but this practise was abolished with a majority hush-hush vote as it was interfering in the flawless forwarding of the said parcels. So now people put all ID on the outside so as to facilitate easy removal. After watching that IBM ad which tracks packages, I would love to see where my gifts end up eventually next season!
Fast-tack to today and people are so pressed for time that the even the Hot Potato style of gifting is abandoned at a personal level. It was the turn of the driver, the cook, the gardener to double up as DHL and deliver our packaged gifts and emotions. It was so convenient – I got the gift and didn’t even have to offer sweets to the harbinger! In fact, often I handed him a ‘return gift’ for his overlord which would save my serf a trip to their castle.
But now, things are getting way out of hand. Technology has reduced all expression of anything remotely human or emotional down to a few keystrokes. It’s my Birthday but you are too busy/stingy/both to visit/call; easy, just text me and felicitate me. If you have kept the message that someone sent you on your Birthday, even better. Else, just do it on Facebook. I am surprised it isn’t an active intransitive verb yet.
For festivals where mass emotions need to be conveyed, phone companies have gone and shaved down time required here by introducing a feature to send the same message to the world at literally the press of a button. Each year I receive more trashy messages conveying me their best regards and their hellos in most monotonous, repetitive and formulated a manner. I shudder at the thought of sending one to anybody. If someone receives one from me, it is because I can’t show them the finger in person!
I think I have well proven the point. We are becoming more indifferent and more callous everyday. We are doing things for reasons no more complicated then a tick on a list of social callings for the year. Feeling genuinely happy for others, being sincere and doing things because we actually want to – I am sure that someone someday will notice them missing and then some protection group will be formed to revive an endangered species.
No, not me. I am just like the rest of them. I may not send stupid messages from my mobile to every person I have ever crossed in my life but I just wrote a whole article on festivals and didn’t once use the word “wish”.