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Its different to be different

November 26, 2013

In India, florescent colors are in vogue these days. You find florescent in formal shirts and tank tops and shorts and even the Indian kurtis. Florescent were my favorite type of colors when I was in school. The reason was that it stood out from the rest. So if a painting had all the colors, and I wanted a color to catch the teacher’s eye, florescent would do the trick, and this quality seemed fascinating. These days, the skinny models on the ramp have fallen in love with these, and so have the manufacturers,the Gujarati retailers, and the western-culture oriented Westside and other brands. Florescent is everywhere..!!. So logically concluding, I suspect that soon this trend will end. The reason being that the main characteristic of a florescent color is that it stands out from the crowd, but if the crowd wears florescent, the the charm is gone.

During the past few days, I have been becoming more and more aware that I am a little different. Not in the clothing department, but as a person – like the florescent. And being different sounds cool but it has it’s drawbacks. When you are different, you are away from a crowd of people wearing normal color clothes and you are in a bright florescent orange color. The crowd stares at you. Sometimes these stares have awe in them but sometimes it also has surprise, loathing, or ill-will in them. Sometimes the florescent orange represents the holy and helpful sun but sometimes it represents the raging and burning fire in hell.

In the past week, I experienced both these stares. The stares of the admirers in the crowd and the stares of the conservationist, who don’t accept different. Different can be good different and bad different. Like, Mother Teresa was good different and the crowd looks at the bright orange sunlight of hope and love. But prostitution is bad different, where the crowd looks at the florescent which represents the fire in hell.  And when you are different, especially in India, you do not know which stare you may encounter. Indian society in general is averse to change. We didn’t want to change our foreign policy. We don’t want to change our customs and traditions. Indians, in general, are proud of constancy – proud of customs that have remained unchanged since eons and are still followed. And being different in here is in itself, a little different. Recently, I vouched an opinion relating to a social pattern in India. And someone differed from me. That someone looked at me with an unbelievable stare and I looked back with an equally unbelievable stare. “How different is this thinking?” I thought. But with a jolt, I counted the numbers around me and I realized that I was not the crowd, I was the florescent orange stranger standing away from the crowd. And it was different, being the only one who was different. It is easy to be in the crowd and stare at the stranger but it is difficult to be that stranger. And just when I was forming a negative opinion about being different, I saw a positive side to it. Some days after the first incident, a senior HR person in office recognized me. Now, I am an intern and him, recognizing me, was surprising. Conversationally, I realized that it was because, once, when the crowd was silent, I spoke in a florescent orange language. On women’s day, when the crowd was asked about what we found sexist in our industry, I had once spoken (I, being the only one) on a matter, otherwise never spoken of in India.

And I realized,it was not bad to be different. Differences are what give you a competitive edge. After all, product differentiation is what the capitalists of today try to achieve. It becomes difficult at times – especially in social matters, where Indians go a little crazy and everyone sees the scary freaky fire rather than the soft, warm sun. But then being different is what makes us these fascinating species called humans. If we loose individuality, we become the crowd. Sure, being different becomes lonely at times, it becomes difficult at times and I have the urge to shed off the florescent and wear a normal color and go stand with the crowd. It feels safe there, not lonely.But then all the great leaders in world were on the other side – Gandhi was the florescent, Abraham Lincoln was the florescent and so was Hitler. But you never know what your florescent flare will turn out to be. Will it be the fire in hell or will it be the glow of the sun ? You would never know. But it, sure as hell will be more exciting that standing in the crowd wearing plain black. So, I learnt something and told myself – I’ll never be afraid of being different, having a different opinion, even if the crowd on the opposite side may grow larger by the minute. I may be the wrong florescent, or the right florescent but I will be my own unique color. And someday, someone from the plain black crowd is going to find the florescent a little more exciting and walk to the other side. Till then, I am going to enjoy my own special color, suck up the angry stares, love the admiring ones and live it up….

From → Events, Social

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