Hello. I’m nineteen years old and I live in one of the biggest, brightest cities in the world Bombay. I was born here, brought up here but I don’t plan to die here. The world is far too big and life, far too short to spend all in one place. I was born towards the end of the twentieth century so, by the skin of my teeth, I made it into the category of the so-called ‘millenials’. Let’s define a millennial, shall we? Millennial is an identity given to a broadly and vaguely defined group of people. There are two wings of “Millennial” that are often at odds with each other: Generation Y (people born between 1981-1991) and Generation Z (born between 1991-2001). I, obviously belong to generation Z. Being a part of this ‘Generation Z’, I’ve lived through almost two of the most dynamic decades ever. This and the city of my birth had enslaved my mind to the idea of a certain four lettered word P-A-C-E. Pace. I was so used to everything being so fast paced. I wanted my 25-minute bus ride to college to get done within fifteen, the 5-minute stair climbing session to my class to get done in 3 and my chemistry lecture to get done within 50 seconds instead of minutes. This sort of clutch, brake and accelerate lifestyle was making me miss out on the little things and rush through the things I was actually doing. At this point, is when I re-read one of my favourite books The Book Thief. As I lost myself in the words of Markus Zusak, I found the part of my that noticed the little things. Like how much I loved the smell of ink paper or how much I loved running my fingertips down the slightly frayed spine of a book that has been read before or how much I loved getting so lost in literature. Things had to change I had to notice, think, appreciate. I was going to be young just once and I had to make the absolute most of it.
One thing that every millennial has fought with their parents or family about, is ambition. Either having too much of it or too little. Ambition is such a subjective thing and for people to be making comments about the ambition of another is completely ridiculous. I’ve met people who want the whole nine yards- expensive cars, massive houses, jewellery etc but then again, I’ve also met people that want to do nothing but travel and see the world with everything they own on their backs. Both these people that want completely different things from their lives are equally ambitious. The drive with which they do their work is one hundred percent the same. We all want something or the other from our lives but more than the actual goal, we want the freedom to pursue those goals in the way we want. None of us want to be forced into a path that we don’t choose. We all want to make our own destiny but we also want to lay the road to get there. Let’s talk about how aspirations have changed through the years. If you sit down and really think about it, the aspirations teenagers have now, are completely different from the ones our parents had. The main goal for our parents was stability. You know, the gaadi and makan. But for us. It’s so much more than that. We want to have new experiences, meet new people, see new places, try new food! Most of want a head full of memories and a passport full of stamps rather than a car or a big fancy house. For our parents, the generation of wealth was a priority whereas for us generating money is of more importance. This is basically because our parents started at a completely different base than the one we started at. We went to better schools, read better books, grew up in a freer environment than the one they grew up in.
We, as a generation are far more expressive than the ones that came before us. We have very strong opinions and quite honestly, we’re not afraid to voice them.
There’s even more difference between our generation and the one our grandparents belong to- the silent generation that is. They lived in a time where expression was so limited and a lot of the things that we say are part of our freedom, were then rebellion. Women wearing pants, for example was a pretty big deal back then. It was a sign of equality, a sign of independence. In our country, the sixties and seventies were pretty tough times. The country was just getting used to being an independent nation and losses like the one in the war of china or losing a prime minister had made the environment a little difficult. The declaration of emergency didn’t help this cause. Let’s just say that being a twenty-something back then wasn’t easy. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. With all the political drama, the 70s also gave of some really good cinema and music. The whole contemporary Indian film movement started in the 70s. Most of our best-known films today were born then. Films like Sholay, Amar Prem, Anand, Deewar were iconic then and they’re iconic even now. It was the time when Bombay started to become the Bombay that it is now. People flocked to the city- like they had been for a while now, but now in greater volume and with much greater pace. The city was running before it had learnt to walk. This created shortages which in turn gave rise to a fresh profession smuggling. Now let’s be clear, the people of this profession weren’t smuggling guns or RDX, they simply brought in watches, radio sets and when Moraji Desai implemented prohibition, bottles of VAT69. Bombay became the land of film stars, smugglers and dreams. Everyone came here with a heart full of determination and a head full of dreams. Some of them made it, most of them didn’t but they’d be damned if they didn’t try. The energy was young and vibrant even though the political situation was a little grim.
It was the decade of disco. Discotheques were THE place to be at. People wore flared pants and had fuzzy hair. They wore ironically large glasses- even they had perfect eyesight. With foggy vision- and a foggy memory the next morning- the youth of Bombay danced and drank their hearts out. They lived like it was their last night on the planet. This is something we can relate to. Our generation wants to do the same. We want to live like the sun won’t rise. We want to dance till our legs hurt, sing till we can’t sing anymore and laugh until we can’t breathe.
But this sort of doesn’t always happen- nor should it. We are the generation that follows work hard to party hard. Most of us have our dreams set in stone. It’s just the means to the end that remains fluid. For example, one of my best friends and I have this dream of moving to Rome and selling desserts and art for a living. Eating the best food, enjoying the best of music and the even better of art. But for that, we’re obviously going to have to work hard for a few years and of course by work hard I mean work till sleep becomes an alien concept and by a few years I mean a decade. But that’s okay. We’re willing to do what it takes to fulfil our dreams even if takes everything we have to give. The youth of today are willing to work and the people around us need to understand that. People older than us look at us looking at our phones and immediately think we’re doing something fickle. But we’re not. We are the ones that talking about freedom and rights and appropriations. We don’t care if it’s a man or a woman doing a job- we only care about the job getting done. We are the ones that are fighting for equality. We are the ones fighting for a man’s right to marry a man or a woman’s right to a divorce or abortion. We believe that everyone is equal and that’s exactly how they should be treated. People say that social media is killing the youth. I beg to differ. Social media is the one connecting all of us. Bringing us all together to fight for the future that we want. Yes, we care about Instagram feeds and twitter feuds but we also care about dogs being killed for sport and women being stoned to death for wanting education and young boys being bullied because they don’t match the stereotypical norms of ‘masculinity’. We all want change and we will make it happen.
We are the generation of artists, scientists, reformers and revolutionaries. We don’t hit like bombs on the ground. We hit like music. Mellow at the beginning but give us sometime and we’ll make the world dance.