After so many moons in the academia, this is what I had to hear. But first a little background to this rueful tale. As you know, I teach English studies. They don’t call it Literature any more since the advent of something that appears monstrous to the uninitiated called Theory. After Theory, we talk of everything around literature rather than about it. I teach this stuff for fear of becoming an obsolete model whose spares are no more available. For every other thing I am fairly old fashioned. For example I talk about stuff consigned to the brittle, sepia-tinted pages of social history such as ethics and values, character and responsibility and Gandhian staples such as means justifying ends. You know the old black and white stuff.
Yesterday this researcher, young enough to be my daughter, said that these words were signs of contemporary irrelevance. A PhD with a NET on the way to a univ. teaching job, or becoming a civil servant or a banker or a media peddler would never get her an apartment in Burj Dubai nor make her the co-owner of an IPL team. I frowned, not being able to take it in. She would, she said, be much better off with an elected representative of the cattle classes with black kurta kind of sartorial elegance ,preferably from the south of India; a real tweety-pie; rather than hang out in stuffy libraries with groaning fans.When there is electricity to make them groan, that is. She said she could then acquire something called a sweat equity and get into a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose lifetime connectivity with the sheer magnificence of luxury.
The switches in contemporary iconography began to bother me. I sought some solace trying to talk this over with my wife over the evening’s cup of green tea. To be honest, she said, they are the world, we are the children. Whether we are right or wrong, only time will tell. You already have a decent accent, now don't get yourself a black kurta.