CREATURES OF HABIT
‘HORN—OK—PLEASE”. Does it ring a bell? Well, most of us in India have seen these words on the rear of trucks. Why do the truck owners write the phrase? Because others do. And others do because their fathers and fore-fathers did the same. No one paused to think of something new. They just copied. No questions asked. As in the case of the ‘roaming calf.”
Once upon a time, a calf grazing in the grassland strayed out and ran into the deep forest. The cowboy chased it in order to bring it back. A few travellers who came there a little later, seeing the footprints of the calf and the cowboy, went along the marks thinking it to be a walking track. And over the years many travelers went along the same track and much later the forest was cut and a city rose in its place. But the original serpentine calf track continued to be the main thoroughfare. No one ever gave a thought as why the main road was so tortuous.
A certain community has a small wedding ritual. All the womenfolk surround the bride and ‘teach” her how to wear a sari. It has its origin from the times when child-marriage was a norm and the child-bride needed to be taught how to wear a sari. But the ritual is blindly followed even today,. And no questions asked.
The moral of the story is that the societies evolve only when the deadwood of all practices that become irrelevant are abandoned.
A day may come, decades from now, when men wear their underwear over the trousers. Historians would tell that the practice was started by a bloke called Michael Jackson. But the people would continue to wear the ‘external undies” faithfully. And no questions asked.