Thursday, February 26, 2015

Honesty and Friendship… disappearing virtues...casualties of the 21st century?

Honesty and Friendship… disappearing virtues in India…maybe in the rest of the world too!


Having decided to buy a house in Bangalore, I contacted my husband’s close friend, a real estate dealer and am currently in the process of buying. When I shared this information with two colleagues, who are also from India, both commented I was lucky to have someone I trusted to take care of the purchase. They commented that they would have invested in India if only they had someone whom they could trust to take care of their purchases. We then chatted about the horror stories we knew of NRIs investing in India who had been duped by their own kith and kin or friends whom they trusted. Some had been duped by close family members or friends, some had been duped by the very lawyers they had hired and many had been duped by the real estate agents.

I realized, how precious and how rare were the fast disappearing virtues of honesty and friendship.{I know many honest people; I also have several really good friends.  And of course, all my friends are honest.} I am so damn lucky to have a friend who is called “Karna” in his circles because of the way he cares for his friends, and he, unlike many Indians is scrupulously honest in all his dealings plus he's in real estate!

To find a person/real estate agent, in India especially, who's both honest and  dedicated is nearly impossible! On my part, I am paying my friend/real estate agent his full commission and I am not exploiting him. Truth be told, there are several real estate dealers who take their commissions and yet do a shoddy job or outright cheat their clients. But thanks to my fantastic luck, I have this great friend/realtor buying a house for me and I have complete peace of mind during the process! As this process is going on, I am marvelling at this person's friendship,honesty & dedication and shocked that I cannot find a single other person to fill his shoes, were he to be absent! He belongs to the rare breed of honest men who are becoming extinct in India and maybe in the world!

When I see the children and people of today, I feel depressed about the absence of friendships in their lives. Trust is disappearing day by day, people are becoming wary, & judgemental and it’s rare to see healthy friendships between people or even between children.
Some children have  toxic parents who caution their children not to befriend children because of their caste, poor performance in school or for ‘playing too much’. In high school, feelings of inferiority seem to set into a few children and they avoid friendships. Parents try to break friendships as they think it interferes with ‘studies’. How the hell will a child develop social skills if he has to focus on studies to the exclusion of all interactions with people. Parents actively discourage their children being friends with kids who don’t study well, who have any sort of a handicap and this is unpardonable. I have also noted with disgust, a few parents who encourage their children to be friends with children of ‘well-connected parents’ as it will be ‘useful’. Seeing all this, I wonder if friendship will die out altogether in this increasingly toxic-competitive  and paranoid world.

In colleges, especially in professional courses, there are a few health friendships but also a lot of invisible psychological damage caused by competition between the students. I have seen friends who were bitterly hurt when a friend whom they considered as ‘best friend’ kept secrets from them…secrets such as applying for GRE or a job or whatever.

I have worked only in two places in India and I am grateful to God that I had great friendships with my colleagues.  We shared our joys and sorrows, we were open about our thoughts and had arguments and did not carry grudges or talk behind backs. This great camaraderie may have had to do with our personalities and also the fact that we were not competing with each other. In today’s private sector, such as the software companies of Bangalore, it is impossible for friendships to thrive…the office atmosphere seems to be non-conducive to building friendships.  In some cases the competition is cut-throat and there is neither friendship nor ethical decent behaviours in some of these places.

I wonder if a day will come when joyful friendships exist only between humans and their individual pets; between the children who are in day-care/kindergarten i.e. children who have not yet lost their innocence, children who have not yet  become too competitive  to feel friendship, children who are still too young to mistrust and children who are young enough to enjoy friendships.

The one absolutely positive development in urban India over the last decade I have seen is the growing interaction between boys and girls of teenage and above. About 40 years ago when I was a child, boys and girls did not speak to each other; a girl would be teased if she spoke to a boy and a boy would be teased if he spoke to a girl. Now there is a wonderful change where boys and girls interact with each other with ease. They travel together, eat out, visit each others houses, etc. Even platonic relationships between boys and girls was discouraged by parents and by society in the past. Romantic relationships between boys and girls were a definite no-no in the ‘olden days’. However, now parents in urban India are tolerating friendships of their children with the opposite sex. Now I see lots of young boys and girls who have fantastic friendships and are simply thriving!

I will next write about what I think are the factors that foster and factors that damage friendships.

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