In the ‘middle’ of it all
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Have you ever had the misfortune of travelling in a packed Virar local when you had to get off at Borivali? Let me tell you, it is sheer hell. While the local train does halt at Borivali like it does at Andheri and of course Virar, the Virareans always consider this particular train to be solely theirs. Yes, if you are aboard this local every Mumbaikar will tell you ‘you have landed’ in hell. That is because you could either choose to get off at Andheri where a large chunk of the population is thrown out of the train or you could choose to go all the way up to Virar, the final resting place. You are in deep shit if you plan to get off at Borivali, i.e. in the ‘middle’ of it all!
Whoever said that hell was way down below the earth or in some far off alien space is badly mistaken! It is right here, right in the middle of everything. If you are a ‘middle’ child, you’d know. The elder one is a super favourite, being the first kid and all. The last one is very close to the heart and the latest favourite. By the time you came along your folks already knew what to do with a kid (raising the older one already) and plus you get the hand-me-downs. Why the middle child only, you ask? Yeah, this could be true for the younger one too. But here is a scenario – the hand-me-downs passed onto you are too old by the third one arrives and hence, he/she gets new clothes. Whatever…
For instance, I am the eldest daughter but with my elder cousin living with us, I became the middle child. So when dadu decided he would allocate a particular sum of pocket money to us, he decided to get three jars. One for the eldest boy (yes, gender discrimination all the way), for me, the one in the middle, the jar contained 50 paise and the third, my sister’s jar contained 25 paise. Now 50 paise isn't as good as Re. 1 but is way better than 25 paise, right? Not really when it came to posting coins into the jars. According to dadu, the elder boy required ‘more’ pocket money so a coin was dropped almost daily. In my case 50 paise was double of 25 paise, so the latter was dropped more frequently than mine. Sigh…the end result was pretty predictable, wasn't it?
Growing up is no different when you realize you are in deeper shit because you belong to some rung on the ladder called – ‘middle’ class. Again, you are very much a part of the invisible but much talked about rat race. Your poor colleagues have disappeared (the poor get poorer, remember? Or richer if they join politics) and the affluent ones are already settled in careers pre-designed and determined for them. They always have it better – salaries, cars, vacations and of course, jobs they love. For the middle ones, we make-do with whatever jobs we land as ‘humare paapi pet ka sawaal hai’ and all that jazz. In addition to this you are worst hit by inflation. You are happy one moment that you got a hike (hardly) in your salary and then at the bazaar you realize you are actually bleeding money!
Vacations too, are a far-fetched thought just like buying a house (a very sore point in my life currently).
Recently, I was explaining my long leave of absence to my bosses. I told them that I am actually trying to buy a house for us. Tough shit, they said. One of them declared that one should never purchase a house and continue to live wherever they are (only if you own the house). Further, he said, so if you wish to buy a house you should either be very rich where you have all the money and no bank will hassle for a loan or you are poor in which case you don’t exist on the map. But if you are in the middle, i.e. you belong to the middle rung of the society then you have had it.
There are scores of documents you need to process and they will still ask for more (in our case they asked for the same set of documents thrice over!). No matter how many times you mail them, they always have printers that don’t work.
The list of required documents is never ending and they will never inform you in one-go what is required from you. Every new person you interact with will ask you the same set of questions. The raises suspicions over the builder and the builder over the bank, and this goes on and on…
And you, the one in the middle, is dragged with his/her face down in the mud through it all. You are the person they despise - the builders hate you as they now realize they could have gotten hold of better buyers with larger buying capacity and the banks, they aren’t completely sure whether you will manage the EMIs or not. Eventually, if both the parties do nod in your favour, you can heave momentary sighs of relief. This is, however, short lived. The demands never end and the middle class continues to strive…
So this is my current situation. Hubby and I have run out of romance and are now crunching numbers to make sure every possible penny is saved towards a larger goal. Many of you would say the entire loan process is the same for everyone…well, let’s just say I never thought it was going to be so tough.