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Love in the Time of Recession

June 9, 2009

These are the worst of times, these are the best of times. This is not a Dickensian ‘Tale of Two Cities’ and there are no revolutions either on the horizon. Not political at least. This is about survival. Losing jobs nowadays is a way of life. It is about learning to take the bad with the good. It keeps one grounded. Serpentine queues outside the employment exchange are the norm. A pink slip is not an invitation to date on the week-end, it’s the end of the road for you in the company. It is time to get a brown bag and stuff your stuff in it and feel very stuffy in the office that you called your own till yesterday. It is about end of the road, as it were. It is about a change of career when you had least expected it. Get your driver’s license renewed and you will be lucky if you can become a cabby – there is a long queue there too. It is about depression, both your own and that of the economy. Or shall I put it the right way, it is because of the depression of the economy that you are depressed. Either way, it is about depression, is it not? The long and short of it is that things have changed and an optimist like me believes that change is always for the better – at least in the long run.

Funnily, it is also about truth – about love. It is about true love. One associates love with romance, with making love, with being in the company one enjoys. But is that the only kind of love that one experiences in life? This recession has taught us all a lot about life, about truth, about ourselves, as an individual, as a society and as a civilization. The west took the recession head on – they were honest about it. Here in India we are still living in denial even though the official figures say that more than a million jobs have been lost in the last six months. We live in a state of denial. That is our way of facing adversity. The markets here in India have shot up in the past few weeks ever since the new government took over. The excuse for the jump is that at last there will be a stable government. The other reason is that the Marxists have not done too well and they are not a part of the government. The latter reason is understandable. The rest does not make sense.

But I am digressing from the point, my apologies. Ha, we were talking about love and honesty. Yes, there is a lack of both in this world. Pink slips are being handed out and with those soup kitchen coupons too, much to the chagrin of many. As I said – it is the worst of times. The reason for such a pass is of course the age old weakness of mankind – greed. Too many people trying to make a quick buck and believing they could take the world for a ride. And I am not talking of mad Madoff only. There were lots of others – suave, sophisticated, wearing expensive eau de cologne, with degrees to match. It is the common man who still takes the rap. They are the ones who get a kick on the butt. The rascals get a fat bonus to leave. A bankrupt company hands out millions to these rascals who made sure the company went under. This is the scam of the century that has just started. But I am digressing again from the point.

Ah, yes, it was about love and honesty. Love in Urdu is also called Ishq. There are many other synonyms. This recession hit us because of lack of what one calls Ishq (I cannot find a word in the English language that can aptly translate the nuance behind this word Ishq). And this is much wider than relationships between two individuals. It is love per se. Love for ones job, ones vocation, ones livelihood is very much in the realms of what one calls love. The reason for this recession was that people did not love their jobs enough. Their reason for doing what they did was more basic – make money. And make money they did any which way. The tragedy is that those that loved their jobs and were honest about it and were conscientious were the ones that got the boot. There needs to be more honesty in our approach to life. That is the moral of the story.

This recession will pass, as all others have passed, because people are basically good. And that makes this world a beautiful place. We have learnt in these few months that we need to be on our own two feet. Many have picked up things that they had forsaken long ago – things that they loved to do. They are now discovering that not only are they enjoying themselves more – they are making a living out of it too. Okay, the money is not as good as it was in the blighted MNC, but now they have time to relax and to reflect and be with their families. Many have gone back to painting, carpentry, writing poetry, pottery, started their own business of mending watches, making footwear – the list is endless. They are finding comfort in the fact that they are on their own and they do not have to go from pillar to post with their bloated resumes begging for jobs. The foundation of America and the capitalist world was always the small businesses. Most of these multinational conglomerates started as small time businesses in basements and garages. It takes a lot of guts – Ishq to start something of your own. It’s the belief that keeps you going. Persistence, hard work – intelligent hard work, that is required. And those who do not love their enterprise enough find that they cannot sustain. A small business is the most honest thing that one can do. One has to be on ones toes all the time. That is love in its truest form. That is Ishq. And you will burn the midnight oil, and work way beyond what you ever imagined you were capable of. Beyond what you thought was humanly possible. And all the sweat and tears will make you happy like you never were. You won’t even realize how long and hard each day is, because you are where you want to be. You are where you belong. You are with yourself, at home with yourself. And the fruits of labor and toil will be so sweet you will never be able to come out it. You will discover yourself. You will be at peace with yourself, learning the intricacies of your craft every day. It will be nirvana. And if your love is true, you will grow beyond your wildest imagination. Ask Bill Gates.

This recession will also be the beginning of many such enterprises. And many of these will grow and become economic behemoths. People will learn to love again – with honesty and diligence – something that they had forgotten all this while. They will work hard and love every minute of it – because they will be working for themselves. Oh what a feeling! Love is in the air – my friend. It is honest hard work that is in vogue. Learn to love – Ishq that is the name of the game. Throw your resumes in the dustbins and break away from those disgusting long queues begging for a job that make you feel small and helpless. Start loving – start working.

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