Chalta hai yaar!

Chalta hai yaar!

Narendra M Apte

We often hear people saying that ‘India is like that only’; ‘We people are like that only’. I think there are not many amongst us or our public leaders who would say: this won’t do.

I mean no disrespect to anyone, but tell me would anyone amongst our spiritual leaders say that he would make efforts to bring about a positive change? As a corollary to this I wish to know what makes people say ‘chalta hai yaar’ (‘chy’ for short)? Is chy a desire to accept the inevitable, or would it be a genuine desire to avoid an unpleasant situation, a controversy or just an overwhelming feeling to accept that this is beyond one’s individual capacity to resist and hence, why waste time?

When a car driver or a motor bike rider breaks a traffic signal at a busy junction and gets away, the only thing the law abiding citizens who see that happen, but who still follow traffic rules, can say is ‘chy’ and give vent to their feelings of anger and frustration. Here,‘chy’ indicates an attitude, a positive attitude, someone can argue. How many citizens will have time and energy to say that this kind of indiscipline won’t do? How many citizens would actually protest and demand that traffic offenders be first warned and then habitual offenders should be severely punished? Is a response like ‘chy’ an answer to many of our daily problems which defy solutions?

Once in while we do meet someone who never gets disturbed even in tense situations: since his mantra in life is ‘chy’. As I see it, ‘chy’ in a way is common man’s ingenious method of accepting the inevitable about something with respect to which he cannot do anything.

How professional psychologists would describe ‘chy’ is an interesting question. I am neither a psychologist nor a social scientist. But as I see it, ‘chy’ connotes a behavioural trait, may be a sort of escapism, or may be a way to avoid taking tough decisions. But for many, it has become part of their character!

Life in our metro cities is tough. We know how the common man living in distant suburbs, deals with stresses and strains in his busy routine, commuting in crowded trains and buses. I think it is through a nonchalant remark like ‘chalta hai yaar’ that lakhs of city dwellers of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai or Kolkata, for many of whom life is a daily survival struggle, learn to deal with life’s boring routine.

We have often heard about brave ‘Mumbaikars’ and their so-called never-say-die Mumbai spirit. How is Mumbai spirit different from ‘chy’?

For many living in smaller towns, I suppose ‘chy’ has become a tool of self-defence. Or is it sort of manifestation of desire to move on?

Would a psychiatrist treating a patient suffering from frequent phases of mood swings and acute depression suggest to her to adopt attitude of a ‘chywala’? Are chywalas introverts or extroverts?

When today I read a news report about Citibank’s decision to use robots in back offices of the bank, I suddenly realised that a robot will never say ‘chalta hai yar’ and tell a bank customer to get lost!

I see many advantages of this ‘chy’ culture in today’s daily life. Train delays, traffic jams and consequent problems in our daily lives are quite common. If one can deal with such delays by just saying ‘chy’ with a shrug, I suppose one would be far less stressed.

Personally, however, I am not a chywala!

Narendra M Apte, a qualified Chartered Accountant, is a freelancer.