Talking with amrita

SONGSOPTOK: To which generation do you belong? To which generations do the members of your immediate family belong?

AMRITA: My husband and I are ‘Baby Boomers’. Both our brothers belong to Generation X. Our children are all Millennials.

SONGSOPTOK: In your opinion, is generation gap a myth or a reality? How would you define generation gap?

AMRITA: Generation gap is very much a reality. It is the difference in the way of thinking and attitudes between two generations that constitutes a generation gap. Every generation thinks that they are as progressive as their children and they genuinely believe that they have done everything in their power to understand the views of the next generation (sometimes, compromising with their own value system, to avoid conflicts within the family). But unfortunately, the next generation never thinks that their parents make the grade as far as thinking alike is concerned. What this results in, is major conflicts, with the younger generation storming off to show their displeasure while the older generation, more pragmatic and having been witness to many such tantrums before, go back to their daily chores or to reading their newspaper.

SONGSOPTOK: Have you personally had problems with your previous generations? In which domains specifically? How did you react to it then?

AMRITA: As with every other human being I too have had my share of conflicts with my parents and with people of the previous generation. Most of these conflicts arose out of differences of opinion about lifestyles, marriage and also about bringing up my own child. Very surprisingly, even though the difference in ages was more than two times, my parents and my child, more often than not shared a very good rapport. They seemed to understand each other instinctively. My parents seemed much more open to understand another point of view and less critical about points which they did not understand, while the offspring tended to not storm off in a huff, when the grandparents said something that they did not agree with.

SONGSOPTOK: Have you ever heard “You won’t understand” from the next generation? Do you remember the specific situations when you heard it? How do you react? And do you remember saying the same words to your parents / elders? In what context?

AMRITA: I hear those words practically everyday. There is no specific occasion when I hear them. One fine morning it can be that ‘I don’t understand’ why the offspring eats what he does for breakfast, which I actually don’t understand and object to. The next day brings about that I ‘don’t understand’ why he changes jobs as frequently as he does. You see we belong to a generation that held onto a job at hand as firmly as a dog does a bone. So the concept of changing employment as regularly as one does clothes is absolutely foreign to me. There is generally a big storm that brews when this topic is discussed. Lastly, the point where we disagree most violently is on the topic of nuptials. This is where the major storm breaks upon our heads. I do remember disagreeing with my parents but, to tell you the truth, I never remember throwing a tantrum. My mother would have had me locked up had I dared raise my voice to the octaves that my offspring does and I had a healthy fear of my mother’s eyes.

SONGSOPTOK: In a globalized world all generations dress alike, eat alike, dream alike – is it still possible for generation gap to exist? Or do the reasons for the famous gap lie elsewhere?

AMRITA: The generation gap is not a physical gap. All the outer manifestations can be worked upon so on the surface, you cannot tell a mother from her daughter or a son from his father. But what happens to the mind?  The generation gap exists solely in the mind. It is a product of the different ways of living and thinking that are inherent to man as he grows older and dare I say, wiser! The funny thing is that now I find myself repeating my mother’s words to my son. They come instinctively to me, I know not from where! And the same words that had irritated me silly, when I was growing up, now actually seem to be making so much sense.

SONGSOPTOK: Given that in this age of connectivity, it is easier for parents or guardians to keep connected with their children or wards (keep track of their activities through Facebook, Whatsapp or whatever) – also make them aware of their own interests and individualities - do you think “generation gap” still exists? If yes, why do you feel so? If no, could you please share with our readers on the ways that you remain connected and how does that help you overcome the gap.

AMRITA: It is indeed wonderful what the Social Media has done to change all our  lives and touch parts of ourselves that we would not even have thought existed. Our offspring know our friends, what we do and vice versa. Life would have been perfect, but life so rarely is. These days the next generation has found ways and means to dodge our relentless scrutiny. They have put us on ‘Limited Profile’. Which means that we get to see only the parts that they want us to see. And I have it on the best of authority that Facebook is very passé as far as the next generation is concerned. They have moved on to a new age lingo which though English, is far away from any English that we know. The gap as I have said before, is in the mind and it is the mind that we should try and understand if this generation gap is to be bridged.

SONGSOPTOK: What do you think – is generation gap a gap between two individuals of different age groups or is it really between two generations across individuals? In this context, what role can the parents / elders play to bridge the gap if it exists?

AMRITA: A generation gap is never found only between two individuals. This gap always rears its head between two generations. This is because of the difference in their socio-economic evolution.  It is very possible for parents or elders to try and bridge this gap. All it requires is an open mind and the readiness to change their way of thinking and look at things from the point of view of the other party. Now the older generation would find it easier to do this job. The younger generation is definitely not so mature and neither are they expected to be. Experience and age both play their role and as the wheel of life turns the generation gap does narrow down to just a tiny chasm from the wide gorge that it once was.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you ever face troubles created by generation gap outside your family? Especially in office, educational institutions, market etc.? How do you react to that?

AMRITA: In every institution, there exist people from several different generations. It would be foolish to expect these individuals to function perfectly and seamlessly. Hundreds of clashes, big and small, erupt on a daily basis. The only way to react to this is to try and explain the situation to both parties individually….when they are in a quieter frame of mind and if this does not work then just give things a little bit of time to settle down. They usually do.

SONGSOPTOK: We feel that generation gap starts creeping in as we age – on one side we try to acquire new things from changed times and on the other – we try to cling to our own inheritances. Do you agree? What would be your advice on how one can overcome this contradiction, if at all?

AMRITA: I agree that as we age we find ourselves facing this contradiction within our own lives. But to me, this contradiction has come as a cause for celebration rather than as a cause for concern. I feel that I am able to see both sides of a situation hence have a well rounded approach towards the problem. The old and the new suddenly seem to co-exist beautifully. The only thing necessary is an open mind!

SONGSOPTOK: Please leave some parting words for the next generation, your generation and the previous generation that reflect your thoughts on this topic.

AMRITA: Life is like a circle and nothing in this life is permanent. Youth, middle age and old age are all different parts of the same life. We all pass through these stages. As elders, we must remember the different parts of our journey and when the youngsters make mistakes we must learn to be more tolerant…..and remember our own journeys. Youngsters too need to keep in mind that the  ‘old fogies’ were once as young as they themselves now are and they have  a wealth of experience which can be drawn upon.  The older generation know the pitfalls and sometimes all that they are trying to do is avoid those pitfalls for their next generation. The two can co-exist. All that is needed is a large spoonful of patience.

AMRITA KANGLE: is a realtor and architect by profession and a writer, poet and artist by passion

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)


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