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  • Writer's pictureAnanya Biswas

Kids these days

"Kids out driving,

Saturday afternoon just pass me by

I'm just savouring familiar sights

We shared some history, this town and I

And I can't stop that long forgotten feeling of her

Time to book a room to stay tonight"

I have a lot of faith (hope?) .. in young people.

I realised this today after finishing an Australian teen-drama on Netflix.

I love teen dramas.

//*And this is a random rant about why I think I do.*// 

I also met this young(er?) adult last Saturday afternoon - she's passed out from JU Eng Lit, she is a very talented artist who has just set up her own studio - she's also got a cool role at a tech company but she is also 26 and feels absolutely fucked up.

She feels she should have been doing a lot more given her privileges.

//*My own sister is also 26 and she is currently trying to figure her life out in a different country*//

She feels she got her day job because of nepotism, she still hasn't managed to open her NGO, there seemed to be enough personal shit that we did not talk about but just her angst and her fire as she spoke or sometimes kept quiet - she reminds me of me, I kept thinking.

Which is true and false. I also thought.

We both come from privileged bubbles, but of slightly different flavours. I decided to stop being a rebel without a cause and come back home at the age of 22 to build in Kolkata, a has-been city of dreams. I'll be 34 this July.

"Number one is to find some friends to say, "You're doing well"

After all this time you boys look just the same

Number two is the happy hour at one of two hotels

Settle in to play, do you remember so and so?

And number three is never say her name"

Do you believe in patterns?

Well it is not even a choice. 

Especially circles. 

Perhaps it can be broadened to ellipses.

The week before last weekend I was dealing with a bunch of powerful middle-aged women - all CEOs and directors of their companies in their mid 40’s. It was not a pleasant week.

Consider the scenario: Middle-aged boss ladies who have recruited slightly lesser aged female-owned agency who has recruited further lesser aged ladies (and lads) - spats about respect, attitude, who-do-you-think-you-are, why-should-I-listen-to-you, misogyny call-outs, power struggles, technology divide, whatsapp debates, lots of feelings, lots of crying, lots of swallowing of egos and wallowing on nightshifts while getting the job done. Something like three generations of imposter complexes crashing against each other as more and more capable, independent, opinionated women take up their mantle next to men at work - we have been empowered to have a voice - but all the women shouting at the top-of-their new found voices sounds like a ballad of banshees (including mine). And the fight is not just females right, there are all our beloved men in the mix.

//* This rant is now moving more towards ageism in the fledgling feminists of the 21st century - yesterday was mother's day*//

Have you ever shopped at a bazaar? With hundreds and thousands of options from many small sellers - each unique, each hand-made, each as-ethically-sourced-as-possible, where every twinkling shop calls out to all your five senses in every possible material, cut, price and colour? These spaces have their own cultural dynamics. And since in India women majorly do the household shopping, in these narrow lanes, the customer is Queen.

So while walking past these shops, my mother has a habit, if she likes something on the window, she will go inside. Then she will take down the whole shop to look at all the different knicks and knacks they have. Then she will demand for the first thing she had spotted which made her come into the store. At half price flat. The shopkeeper will refuse. She will leave the shop to go to the next shop. She will first check out the price of the same/similar item. Then, just for kicks, she will ask to see, everything else. If, the shopkeeper asks for the same price, then the halving will happen, if he agrees then she buys, else she goes back to the previous store. Unless she has walked too far. Then she will go to the next store. Then the next. Then the next till she gets what she wants else she has circled the route back to store one. Full circle.

//*Mothers day and all other special days suck when you are a brand marketeer because the overhyped unreal fakeness of it just keeps slapping your face as you come up with sentimental lines and stories and user-generated campaign structures but why we keep knowingly exporting all our personal feelings to popular culture with blatantly obvious capitalist motives is probably better discussed with us and our therapists*//

“Oh the flame trees will blind the weary driver

And there's nothing else could set fire to this town

There's no change, there's no pace

Everything within it's place

Just makes it harder to believe that she won't be around”

Time to make my point.

I have a lot of hope in young people.

Simply because when I look at my mother, or try to work with ladies younger than her but elder to me, I have rarely found true camaraderie. I neither judge them nor blame them because it is on their backs that we managed to do a little better.

For all her annoying habits, my mum is the reason I went to an english-medium school and can write this long long rant in the way and the language that I am. Amongst many many other invisible small things that I am tearing up just remembering but are too personal to write about. However, I never wanted to be her. I wanted all her good bits, but I never wanted to be her. Patriarchy broke - atleast cracked her.

"But oh, who needs that sentimental bullshit, anyway?

Takes more than just a memory to make me cry

And I'm happy just to sit at a table with old friends

And see which one of us can tell the biggest lies"

Patriarchy has also broken (cracked?) me.

I grew up a tomboy.

I grew up trying to prove everyday how I am not like those other girls.

How I am tougher, stronger, more grounded or aware or whatever - more worthy of a seat at the decision (men's) table. A lot has changed since then. Thanks to the internet. Thanks to my younger sister. But how many times and how much can you really change?

More importantly, what about the consequences of all the claw-marks we have been leaving on each other that are burned more in our memories than our bodies for centuries? Misogyny is alive, well, infectious by nature and spread more by women. It was in fact structured for the very purpose to set us off against each other and set-off we do.

So many battles you have to fight to finally have a voice and then someone younger comes in saying you have got it wrong. That it is not just your voice, but also a lot of other voices that have been stifled. And if we are really, truly seeking equality, then the seats at the table cannot be reserved for just men and women but all humans. That it is not a man vs. woman fight - or a cat fight - our earth has so many different kinds of animals. In our fight to be heard and accepted by others, as important as it is to talk, it is perhaps even more important to listen. And contemplate on our own levels of acceptance. And that we can do better. (Albeit in a far queerer and much less respectful language and most probably on text because they hate confrontations and are not very good at verbal conversations because they grew up looking down at a screen)

They are young and they are naive, they do not have experience so they do not know better - but the fire in their eyes always remind me of why I started yelling in the first place when I was their age. And it is the same fire, burning with the same intensity, but a lot more exposure. They have more awareness. They have more data. They even have AI if they can use it properly - It gives me hope that while I try to keep doing what I can, they will do better.

As flaky and flabbergasting Gen Z is, they are fluid and fascinating in their natural embracing of all people and all cultures. I am scared that they will not survive because they really are snowflakes, but I have hope that if they somehow manage to, it will most definitely be a far better, kinder and more colourful world.

"Oh the flame trees will blind the weary driver

And there's nothing else could set fire to this town

There's no change, there's no pace

Everything within its place

Just makes it harder to believe that she won't be around"

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May 13

I feel like survival be inherent as a human being. While the so-called "flakiness" has increased over the generations, so has an inherent ability to endure.

Fascinating read, Ananya. Just a thought, perhaps you could incorporate a greater pace in your writing. Or maybe there's a need to articulate in this way for your current readers. Important food for thought is the Rate of Revelation on this piece IMO.

Ananya Biswas
Ananya Biswas
May 14
Replying to

Good things take time 🙂

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