Saturday, August 28, 2010

A matter of trust

Returning from an errand, I met a rickshaw-wallah the other day, who set me thinking. Upon being told my destination, he was full of questions. About my place of study, where I come from, whether the courses are difficult, the accommodation, the campus, the admission process, the composition of the student community and so on. I was a little reluctant to answer his questions and evaded them in what I thought was a skillful manner. You don't go around divulging personal details to absolute strangers, do you?
Having managed to try and give monosyllabic answers for most of his questions, I was almost patting myself on the back when he turned around and apologized for his inquisitiveness.
"Madam, my son an engineer. He study here, but now job in Pune. Good job. Very proud. Hard work, you know. I want him to study more. So asking you. Sorry, madam if you don't like it."

I was ready to dig a hole through the floor of his rickshaw and allow the earth to swallow me up, metaphorically speaking. What kind of person had I turned into if I had allowed my essential niceness to be swallowed up in the safety drill!?!

Why is it that we are taught to not trust strangers? We are born with the ability to look at the world like it is full of the most innocent and beautiful people. It is as we grow up that the prejudices set in, become ingrained in to our psyche and we turn into suspicious, small-minded adults! I hate the fact that the minute I see a stranger staring or a slightly different/weird looking individual walking by me in a slightly lonely locality, the thought immediately crosses my mind that this person might mean some harm and I should be ready to face anything. I should be careful, mindful of my own safety and so on.

And then the guilt crashes in. That such thoughts come visiting. Perhaps they are important in today's world. But that human beings have lost such faith in others of their own kind is disturbing. It is not fair to the other person or people. I would hate it if anybody thought such awful stuff about me for no particular reason. I would hate it even more if perfectly innocent people who just happened to be around, minding their own business, or perhaps even wondering if I am a safe person while passing me by, could look into my head and read my thoughts.

It is sometimes difficult to follow all the rules of this world. At least in the present day and age...
What are we always told about strangers right from the time we are kids? DON'T talk to strangers. Strangers can be bad, can be cruel, can mean trouble. Stay away from them. Very important life lesson indeed. Especially when one considers the statistics about crimes where children and women more especially, and even men in many cases, are the victims. Strangers can indeed be dangerous, at times.

But when is the "no strangers" rule supposed to be eased a little bit? At what age is one supposed to be grown up and able enough to judge people, especially strangers? Because every new person is a stranger and many might turn out to be people you could treasure, awesome people. And doubting them to begin with does not make for a happy time ahead, in fact, might mean driving away the very people who might be meant to travel the roads with you...

Somehow we need to strike the perfect balance between staying safe and away from harm even while being good human beings, who trust and judge correctly. That, I believe, is the essence of all that growing up, maturity and wisdom. Perhaps life and experience teaches you this, it is not something you can learn in a class or from a  book about morals and values. This might be why our parents and grandparents seem so much wiser. They have seen, lived and learnt, a process that takes patience and time. But having to live in a fast-forwarded world today, where we have so little time to invest in wisdom, we forget to learn. Perhaps every now and then, I ought to stop and think for myself if I am the kind of person I like. Then I might yet end up the kind of person I could like if I ever met myself as a stranger...

13 comments:

Onkar Bhardwaj said...

Nice one! Such a distrust increases even more when you are new to a place, like I am.

Madhuja said...

i enjoyed reading this Mukta! Its true that behind the curtains of all our caution and prejudices, somewhere we are completely losing faith in our own kind...

Rhuta said...

I love it. =)

P.S.- Sorry, but 'dig a hole'.

Mukta said...

hehe, yeah right. corrected it :) are you gonna hate me forever for this now? :P

Arun said...

yet again.. a marvellous though-provoking post :)

aadi said...

Truly a matter of trust. Such a contrast from where I have been brought up n where I reside now. Being brought up in Goa always meant that every one could be trusted. Even today the statement stands, but with riders, Goa isnt the same anymore.

Same is the case with Himachal, here one can place ones trust in a complete stranger. There is no need to be skeptical or wary, one is fairly sure that the stranger means you no harm, may even help out a bit.

But one thing is common to both these places, they are both primarily rural areas. Why is it that humanity hs lost meaning i the cities while in the rurl areas where resources are limited, people still live like kings. Generous when it comes to love, trust and the heart?

Is the so called urbanisation, development and access to better facilities and an increased comfort level in life making us lose our humanity. Coz if its so, I would rather live in a village. Why cant we all live the simple life, free of strife where

I'd call a place
pure paradise
where families are loyal
and strangers are nice,
where the music is jazz
and the season is fall.
Promise me that
or nothing at all.

Unfortunately

Abhijit said...

Nicely put... Although how much we trust whom with what varies greatly from person to person, even within similar cultures or regions...

vinay said...

Very well written! You have put down the thoughts to perfection (as always, I might add)...

Trust is learnt through experiences. I feel, the most important phase is your early few years when you set up a general idea of trust and cling to it through your life (unless, maybe, a drastic event occurs to shake it up completely) Thus a person born and brought up in a well-settled, peaceful society would get used to more trust as compared to one brought up in a largely estranged society. I would second Aditya on the city and rural scenario and that's largely because the society in a city is pretty dynamic with the elements changing drastically and continuously lending very little time for the elements to know each other and grow trust. In a rural scenario or even in small pockets that have remained constant over a period, trust breeds and gains root more easily. This trust then reflects wherever you go, getting only slightly recalibrated, if at all, as per the experiences you gain. This initial reference is very important in my view and most go back to this when they act on instincts. The easiest way to help grow trust is, I feel, to take initiative yourself. How many times are you up to ask questions to others, who are complete strangers? And in what fashion do you ask them? Do you take a safe stance at such times (perhaps to avoid suggesting any lack of knowledge) or do you ask it with all humility and acceptance? Your behaviour or thoughtprocess while asking such questions would also reflect in your reaction to such questions...This seems true of most reactions and inferences in our experiences...The belief that any initiative on your part may backfire, mostly impedes us from trying and in turn creates even more impedance overall...Huh, serious topic this! :)

Deepti said...

Hi Mukta, you won't believe this thought very recently crossed my mind. In person, I believe that you should trust your instinct when it comes to trusting an unknown, and I truly believe that children are the best judge of character because they have no reason to fear anyone. But as a mother, I wonder how will I teach my child to judge someone, tell her that all strangers are not bad, but train her instinct to safeguard herself.

It is all left to us to decide what we teach the generation to come. Food for thought.

Rupesh Nasre. said...

This blog is going to sure carve out your personality.

Best wishes.

अमृत said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
अमृत said...

Mukta,
There is something in your blogs which attracts the reader...! It may be language, may be flow, may be clarity of thoughts or may be all of them. Thank you and keep writing.

saifikhan said...

Two victims of an intolerant society are trust and self confidence !