SINDHIS –COMING OF AGE?
By Arun Babani
In India the Sindhiat is about 67 years young. The movement that began in 1947, with dhoti, kurta and pagdi has crossed over in 2014 to Armani suits and Gucci bags. Going through many ups and downs; it has negotiated many curves and turns. What it is today and what it means to its members today has no resemblance whatever to what it was and what it meant in the early fifties. The very definition of the word Sindhiat has undergone a total transformation. New ideas and new people have descended in the last few years and decades. We have identified a few new character types in Sindhiat today that did not exist earlier. These are the new entrants that are responsible for giving Sindhiat a new meaning, a new face, a new turn and a new name!
1. The first is the Powerful Bosses:- This category is relatively new in Sindhiat and did not exist to begin with. In the 40s and 50s there were in fact no bosses and no subordinates. All were comrades and co-workers. But today there is this category of the powerful bosses who head various organizations, academies, councils, foundations and Sammelans. They wear suits and command, demand respect, obedience and total submission. They make decisions and plan strategies all by themselves. These powerful bosses are not from any intellectual, artistic or creative backgrounds. They seem to have come into being simply for the sake of self promotion in the name and garb of service to the community. Usually they are what is known as one-man-show, deciding out of personal fancies. Usually they are applauded on their face and abused on their back. Generally they are an ambitious and ruthless lot with an autocratic style of functioning that result in a lot of bad blood around them. It is not clear what they seek from Sindhiat besides publicity and self promotion.
2. The Impoverished Artists and Intellectuals: – This category of characters existed even earlier, from the beginning of Sindhiat, although their style and motives have changed over the years. Their main aim seems to be to be recognized, appreciated and applauded with awards, trophies and publicity. They seem to have an insatiable appetite for flattery that has become their second nature. You give them a call after years and they will spend a long time telling you about what they have been doing, thinking, writing, winning and losing. They will tell you about how they have been ill treated and ignored. This feeling remains with them till the end of their lives, which is a pity. Perhaps the artists in our community have not been looked after well and on the other hand their unjustified greed for being counted in history has not been totally satisfied. It seems impossible to fulfill their expectations, tall as they are!
3. The Smooth Middlemen: – This again is a new category in Sindhiat that has emerged in the last decade or so. These middlemen will help you put up your play, act in a serial, publish your book or even get you an award, at a suitable price! They have gone through the grind for the past 60 years and have learned the nitty-gritty of getting things done and have now put up a consulting shop to help others with their projects. Well, on the face of it there appears nothing unreasonable about their enterprise because they offer expertise and charge their fees, except that they usually promote substandard talent for the obvious reasons; the real talent will refuse to go through their channel to reach somewhere!
4. The Highflying Sethias: – This also is a new character in Sindhiat since in the beginning there were NO Sethias, highflying or otherwise! This category in Sindhiat has both a positive and negative role to play. Positively they finance many worthy projects and negatively they may perhaps promote and pressurize the direction of the project. But by and large Sindhiat has always counted on Sethias for its survival, now even more than ever before. And so, like it or not, they are going to influence the general philosophy and direction of Sindhiat. The Sindhiat is going global and so very soon these highflying Sethias are going to negotiate its flight. GOD BLESS SINDHIAT
5. The Exploited Simpletons: – Like the impoverished artists, the exploited simpletons too have always been around in Sindhiat. The only manner in which they differ is that the simpletons don’t have greed for publicity as the artists, nor their sense of dejection. These exploited simpletons seem to be just there to be exploited and exploited they are by everyone everywhere. Poor folks. They seem to have no other place to go, nothing else to do, so they offer their services to translate, to rewrite, to carry your burdens, to take your picture, just anything that you may need and that too for absolutely free! They are, as the Bible says, ‘Those also help that simply stand and watch your show.’
6. The Trendy Ladies: – Absolutely and totally a brand new class of Sindhiat is this club of the trendy ladies who will just barge into your office or home and demand to be attended to. Headstrong and experienced, these modern Sindhi ladies are like an expensive ornament newly acquired from Hong Kong or Dubai. They drive fast cars, carry the latest brands of sunglasses and handbags and have fashionably adorned jet black hair at 70! They have the ideas, rich husbands to finance them, confidence to get them through, and the contacts with the bigwigs in the community, as well as a ruthless ambition to succeed. They desire a totally new Sindhiat for the future generation, like remixing of Laada with pop music! Well why not, as long as it works without getting out of tune! JHULELAL’S BLESSINGS!
7. And finally the Real Heroes :- About these we have to inform the community that this category no longer exists and have all reached their graves safely!
8. And the Geniuses…? Any guess about their whereabouts? Maybe, check the banks of the river Sindhu…!?
And finally with all these new entrants a few elements of Sindhiat that have disappeared over the years…THE BOOK SELLER…THE COMIC BOOK…THE BHAGAT DANCERS…THE SINDHI TEACHERS…AND ALAS…THAT KAKO CHOLA DHABAL WARO…!