The traditional and the modern. The co-existence of these seemingly contradictory characteristics is so common in India that we seldom notice it or think about it.
I see so many of our youngsters, college going girls and boys, as well as the young people working in the new techno and marketing companies. Well dressed, branded wear, hip, expensive mobile phones, gelled hair, deodorant, accented talk.
But many of them also have those coloured threads on their wrists, the threads that have some kind of religious significance.
Writing this brings to mind a thought that has been nagging me for a while.
I grew up in an atmosphere super charged with prayer and faith and religion. From the time I was around four until I was fifteen or so. I would pray and have goose pimples all over, my eyes would overflow with emotion and the feeling of being "touched" b y the divine.
And then "liberation" set in. The rebellion and independent thoughts of young adulthood. The pendulum of faith swung to the other extreme. I lost "faith", because faith, by definition, is belief without a foundation - unfounded belief.
Over the years I have vascillated between faith and doubt, and even after so many years and so many experiences I do not know where I stand.
I describe myself as a seeker, someone willing to believe, but yet on the lookout for what to believe in.
And that has led me to a question regarding parenting.
We have brought up our son without any strong spiritual or religious beliefs, without faith. My argument was that, in time, he would find his own reasons and explanations and beliefs.
But there have been times when I have doubts if we did right by him. Faith is a strong support to hold on to in difficult times, when friend, relatives and the world in general seem insufficient or unable to provide us the kind of support we are looking for. "God", by whatever name called, is the ultimate source of strength.
By not providing him with the opportunity to draw on this source of support, haven't we deprived our son of something very valuable?