A Bengali gentleman’s engagements with America – Part II
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In 2006, something very radical happened in my career – I had “retired” just as cricketers do in India while they “peak”. Before I was 30, I left my corporate job for no other reason that that of becoming apathetic of going to work. I was not aware at that time but it was something taken not kindly in our environment. I was a married man with a child of one year.
I started working on my business – a business I had started while I was a Master’s student in the UK. The business provided me with ample leisure and I passed my time by reading and then writing a narrative history of my native province, Bengal, entitled An Intimate History of Bengal. It was in this period, Democracy in America by Alex de Tocqueville came in my hand and I started reading the 700 page book with utter fascination.
The book was written in 1833 and wonder of wonder, the book started giving me underlying reasons of the contemporary society’s reaction to my philosophy of life – “un-examined life is not worth living.“. I was very delighted to find that in a democratic and equal society where all privileges of birth, lineage, pedigree, caste are theoretically made irrelevant and this vacuum will be filled by the sole identification of what one does (job) and what one earns (money). The more society moves from aristocracy to democracy, it will amplify these trends. Interested reader may see a whole summary of the book here.
Hollywood also had its influence in my growing up and three films that stand out are The Godfather Trilogy, The Untouchables, Once upon a time in America. I do not remember any other film having any trans formative influence on me. Most of the other mainstream films were more or less thoughtless like our Bollywood films but with better production and more disciplined acting.
Meeting my first American in person
I met my first American in person in 2001 while I was on a cable laying ship laying submarine cable across the seven seas. He was a big Texan man – 6 feet plus and a belly to match. I had found his English difficult to understand initially but after some training, the ear could be accustomed .
The Indian Immigrants in America
The next interactions I started having was from Indian immigrants or those who worked for few years while deputed by their employers – large Indian IT companies. These people were in the age group of 25-32 years – predominantly male and it appeared quickly to me that being economic migrant and that too working very late hours, they had less temperament and more less opportunity in terms of time and money to have comprehensive cultural experience. Except one, I could not have any commentary of individuality and hence although such people were too many but influence was very insignificant to me. In short, they had fixed expectations and more rigid and fixed ideas and being operational workers looking for opportunity and nothing else, their commentary and observations were bound to be limited, selective and interest-driven.
I wrote my commentary on this theme and posited a devastating thesis on the absence of any first order work of Art by this population.
Credit Crisis of 2008
It was in 2008, my interest in America got intensified. By that time, many new technologies appeared and that made the global village appear more and more vivid in images and videos. Something was lost in this barrage of information and that was penetrating the obvious.
In the last and Part III, I shall cover the next 10 year period when I worked as a business owner and in my own assessment – “a Time Rich Cash Poor Gentleman.”