Discuss your perception of what Iyer describes as an “entirely new breed of people,” the “nowhere man” of his title. What characterizes this new type of person? To what extent are you familiar with it? What consequences of “the transit lounge” syndrome does Iyer identify? Can you think of others? Pico Iyer got used to staying away from his home at a very young age—when he was just about nine-years-old.
His home was oceans apart from his school and he never gave much thought about flying home to meet his near and dear ones. It was much later that he thought about his living style and wondered that his kind of living would have been “unimaginable” to his parents in their young days. The number of frequent travelers is increasing by the day in today’s fast-paced world. This is an “entirely new breed of people” who live off their suitcases.
People move their base, according to the demands of their jobs and for various purposes, in such a pace that it is difficult not to quote the popular saying, “the world has shrunk. ” They have their roots in one corner of the world, their parents stay elsewhere, their children in some other places, and they live in another part of the world. So, as Iyer says, it is not a matter of surprise or wonder to have a girlfriend who “might be half a world (or ten hours flying time) away. ” It may be apt to describe them as having the “transit lounge syndrome. ”
This transition in living style is quite phenomenal considering the days when families used to live in one big palatial house comprising great grandparents, grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, nephews, nieces, expanding further with the arrival of the new generation. This was the order of the day and if a son moved out, it was mostly for work and the prime concern of the entire family will be to get him back home as soon as possible. For various purposes, this way of living gave room to smaller family units, which, in turn, paved the way for today’s nuclear families.
And, in this truly globalized world, there are others like Iyer’s where the parents live in the part of the world that helps them to prosper and have their children sent to the best school or university, which is in another part of the world. The transit lounge syndrome that Iyer discusses is about separation and displacement. Relationships exist for people who are constantly on the move, but they cannot comprehend or feel the significance of such relationships since they don’t really spend time with any one in particular.
They get separated from their families, and just when they are about to form relationships in their new place, they pack and move again. That is why Iyer says that he is not able to relate to the feelings of people who cry and kiss their loved ones in the airports since he has never felt so before. Travelling has been his way of life and his home is as strange or as familiar to him as is any other place in the world. Since he is not able to pin down a place to call his own, he describes himself as a stranger in his own house.
That is the frequency at which he travels and that doesn’t let him ascribe to his roots. Pascal Zachary describes that roots “represent tradition, the past, forebears, ancestors, wisdom, beginnings. ” And, without them, Iyer says he feels lost. The transit lounge syndrome can be found in many other instances in today’s world. One example is that of partners having children who separate due to differences between them. When children stay with the mother and just get to visit their father according to a timetable drawn by the courts, the father can be said to undergo this syndrome.
Being separated from his wife and children, he might initially feel despair. But once he gets over the feeling of desolation, the feeling of not belonging to any place or to any one creeps into him. He might gradually lose touch with the profound emotions and bondage that bind him to his estranged family. Maybe to counter the increasing trend of transit lounge syndrome in people that there exist many means of communication in the modern world. People can “stay connected” in today’s world, though they may live poles apart.
There are telephones, faxes, and the World Wide Web that instantly connect people. So even if a person is away from his home or dear ones, he can still video conference or video chat with them, but is it like the real thing? How much of his joys and sorrows can he share with them? They may discuss the really important ones, but there are umpteen other “small things” that affect a person in his or her everyday life. In close-knit families these are discussed and shared; they are laughed or cried about.
This profound sharing of bondage is what goes missing in people experiencing the transit lounge syndrome. Explain Iyer’s remark that “being part of no society means one is accountable to no one. ” According to Iyer, what are the consequences of being rootless, of lacking a sense of being rooted in a particular place that one can call home? Do you agree with him? Why or why not? A person on the move experiences a huge sense of freedom. Being mobile, gives them the freedom to select a place and call it their home.
Their roots are hazy and, even if there is one dimly in the background, they can still get there once in a while thanks to their mobility. In describing this freedom Pico Iyer says that he belongs to the generation of people who “go to Nigeria for a holiday to find [our] roots—or to find that they are not there. ” This kind of freedom is unthinkable for a person who is rooted down to a place and to a set of people. Even while one reads this statement with envy, Iyer immediately counters it by telling that it is only so at a “superficial level.
” It is because, such “wanderers” are aliens to wherever they go and so they can consider the whole world to be their home. Diogenes Laertius in his biography of eminent philosophers states that when someone asked Kant to which state he belonged to, the enlightened philosopher said “I am a citizen of the world. ” The context in which Kant made this statement is of utmost importance here. He was decrying war and was trying to instill a sense of brotherhood and friendship among people. To preserve and protect humanitarian values, he said that he did not belong to any region, but was a citizen of the world.
This is in stark contrast to an international citizen of today’s world, who has lost his roots in the process of travelling from one place to another. This person is rootless and he never cares about anything in life. The experiences of rootless persons are hollow and superficial and they never ponder to think about fine external or internal changes that might take place in their life. However, their soul experiences a kind of freedom that it gloats in and the person may not even be aware of it. To them disorientation and affiliation are one.
They do not associate themselves with right or wrong. Not being strongly opinionated, they can see through the eyes of any person and can superficially understand their ideology, even if it is Saddam Hussein! I fully agree with Iyer when he says that this trend is dangerous and it might wreck havoc on the person and even to the society. Joseph Ratzinger & Marcello Pera when discussing about the identity of Europe as a nation talk about the vacuum “that is being filled by transplanted populations whose presence is a challenge to Europe’s identity and could become a threat to European democracy.
” Belief is a concept that is strange to rootless people. They are devoid of any passions that they would live or die for. Nothing stirs or moves them. They do wander a lot and encounter a lot of people, but what is the depth with which they feel or associate themselves with others? The absence of such depth indicates a sense of hollowness in them. Rootless people look at things from an “aerial perspective” and they are not able to relate to deep and profound thinking. They live in a place and are not able to associate themselves to the culture and beliefs of the place.
They would have only heard about their roots of origin, and being wanderers, some might have visited their roots on a few occasions. Hence, they cannot feel the gush of patriotism even in seeing their national flag flutter. They cannot even understand this emotion in others and cannot make out why people get so emotional on seeing a flag hoisted. They don’t belong to any place, and that means that they do not feel bound by any laws, except their own. Heinrich Kanz states that “parents generally only brought up their children to equip them to ‘fit in with the world as it is today, however bad it may be.
’” This portrays a very materialistic outlook of life, where material accomplishments are given precedence over other finer aspects of life. When people lose touch with their origin, culture, and basically, their home, they tend to feel lost. Moreover, the dividing line between right and wrong fades away in those whose sense of values is not strong. This factor can also be attributed to the increasing level of alcohol and drug consumption among a large number of populations today. Looking at the better side, it is true that such people become very adaptable to their surroundings and this spirit is appreciable.
They can mix with any kind of people, thrive in any atmospheric condition, get used to all kinds of food, and do not get bogged down by any physical barriers. Their exposure to the wider world adds hybridity to their character. But the question here is, how happy are they as individuals? Is there something profound that they are missing in life? The answer is, sadly, yes.
Works Cited 1. Robert DiYanni, One Hundred Great Essays, Pearson Longman, ISBN 0321276663 (2004). 2. Pascal Zachary, G. , The Global Me: New Cosmopolitans and the Competitive Edge: Picking Globalism’s Winners and Losers, The New York Times Company, ISBN 1-891620-61-4 (2002). 3. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, I, Trans. R. D. Hicks, Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library, ISBN 978-0-674-99203-0 (1925). 4. Heinrich Kanz, Immanuel Kant, PROSPECTS: the quarterly review of comparative education, vol. XXIII, no. 3/4, 1993, p. 789–806, Paris (1999). 5. Joseph Ratzinger & Marcello Pera, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity and Islam, Basic Books, NY (2006).Sample Essay of PapersOwl.com