Remember the famous Onida ad of yesteryears in which a green demon comes licking his lips surreptiously and sneakily commenting : “neighbours envy, owner’s pride!” ? These days, money and partners have become the owner’s pride. Both money and a lovely, smart, not-the-coy “homemaker”- type individuals are amazingly in-things.
However, it is my personal observation that somehow in our times it is money — dollars, euros, rupees, yen…which is sexier than any female/male creature. As a poor researcher in literature, having no support from my institution and living through my most unforgivable sin, “not cleared JRF/NET exams”, I live in perennial penury. When I started with research some three years ago, I prided on this penury. In fact, I felt like a la John Keats or a laGabriel Rossetti living with no Govt support — all in order to create history. The result…like brain drains, I drained my father’s last savings which he had saved for my “dowry” :).
After three whole years, I realize that it was my greatest blunder and a desperate Romantic foolishness.
This bit of history was a little important for my recent money hunting ventures. Last month, there was a notice somewhere from some enthusiastic, social-service kind of bankers, offering to help any “meritorious” student of this great institution. Overestimating my merits I applied for this “loan-scholarship”. After ten pages of form filling, two long days of running around to and from various offices, 100 rupees of fax with an estimate of my father’s entire “remaining” property, I was one day summoned to this illustrious baker’s office for a “discussion”.
Of the few interesting questions put to me in what I would say the unforgettable interview of my life, here are some excerpts (folks kindly forgive memory, there might be follies in the recount):
Banker: Hello Lady! So You are a researcher in Literature? How is that going to help you earn?
Me: (scratched my head) Sir, I may join a corporate or an academic institution as a Prof., or at least I can earn by tutions (aur yeh galat jawab)
Banker: You should have been in a University…what are you doing in a technical institution?
Me: (biting my nails — guess interdisciplinarity is in fashion) No, actually I thought great research in Humanities can also be done from technical places. Even Chomsky is from MIT, I guess. (why do you write your Electronics text books in English? why do you study Census, maps in English? )
Banker: You said that you are good in your field…how can u say that…ur CPI shows you are only an 8 pointer in a class of three…
Me: (oops caught! How does he know I was sleeping during course work) Sir, I never knew that talent is judged only from CPIs… I have enough mettle to prove myself in the long run.
Banker: Humanities people can never equal technos…we transform knowledge into work….
Me: (Angry :X) I don’t want to equal…I think we are better of…at least we realize the value of technology…we don’t ask an automobile engineer “do you make scooters”, unlike some of you who tend to ask “u r researching in English, do you write novels”?
Banker:(mellowed) It is ok…my niece too is in Boston doing something with International studies!
Me: Smiled (I come from an orthodox family who will never allow me to Boston without a husband ;))
Banker: We will see…if possible to fund you…actually I am a technical person…so it is kind of a risk you know…to fund researchers and that too in Lit. Moreover, your generation is a little distracted generation…we were a generation which took work seriously…your generation is not much dependable that way…But we will let you know soon…you will receive a mail from our side…ciao…!
Me: Bbye sir…!
Conversation ends…I come out wiping my sweat… it seemed I was emerging after a round of stress interview.
For the last whole month, I was desperately angry and frustrated with myself for showing byronic foolishness by defying the NET thing. I prayed to God, to give me tons of money so that I can show down the whole technos and bankers community of the world. But, I realized that will be another foolish recklessness on my part. Some people spoil the name of an entire community. It happens in my field too…. And moreover, the person who owns money always has a certain degree of advantage o’er subalterns like me…. Egalitarianism is a utopian fancy, u know. This pride comes as a bonus with both money and intellect.