R.S.S and related thoughts …..

re-entry 5

RSS India

R.S.S. or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (meaning National Volunteer Organisation or National Patriotic Organisation) is an ultra “right-wing charitable, educational, volunteer, Hindu nationalist, non-governmental organisation. It is the world’s largest voluntary non-governmental organisation.

RSS states that its ideology is based on the principle of selfless service to India. The RSS was founded on Vijayadasami on 27 September 1925 as a social organisation to provide character training through Hindu discipline and to unite the Hindu community. It proclaims its ideal as upholding Indian culture and civilizational values more than anything else.” Wikipedia

RSS India is in all likelihood still a volatile organization, with uninformed and narrow views, but this is not of immediate concern here. In this writing this is not the RSS I am going to talk about. We will move onto the other RSS.

The other RSS

Re-entry Shock Syndrome-3

Re-entry Shock Syndrome – (R.S.S.) – is a psychosomatic condition experienced by some travelers from chaotic lands upon returning to home country from a civilized foreign land, even after a short stay there.

Typical symptoms include an overbearing melancholia, listlessness, irritability, loss of appetite and insomnia. The condition is apparently exacerbated by exposure to nonsensical news channels, public spitters, gun-toters, blaring horns, exposed piles of decaying litter and general public uncouthness. Advanced sufferers can become violent and indulge in aberrant behavior like going to supermarkets for no other purpose than to intimidate shoppers to form orderly ques at check-out counters, throwing rotten eggs at black-tinted windows of SUVs without number plates, and spray painting graffiti on walls of underpasses in the dead of night, the names of exotic islands all over the world. In a recent incident, one RSS sufferer was found to have spray painted the names of 87 islands in 3 different underpasses in an orgy that lasted less than an hour!

Onset of RSS

The onset of RSS can be at any time. In one individual studied by this writer for over 3 decades, the pre-trip onset was so severe, that the individual actually did not travel overseas at all for this whole period! Definitely wished to do so many times, but the fear of re-entry was too severe to make even a single serious attempt.

For the vast majority of sufferers though, RSS kicks in when the individual is about to board the return flight back, after having a stress-free rollicking time wherever he/she is returning from. As you walk towards your flight boarding gate (usually the last one or thereabouts, reached after a 10 to 15 minutes walk down endless airport corridors), you pass a middle-aged compatriot couple laboriously making their way to catch the same flight; the husband always three steps ahead of the wife. Why

can’t they walk together, you wonder?

Re-entry Shock Syndrome - 1

But at least it is not a Middle Eastern couple, where the husband is usually at least 10 paces ahead of the wife. Or wives.

You pass an urbane, hoity-toity compatriot aunty in a wheel-chair being pushed by a ground handling staff person. You recall seeing her at check-in time when you were standing in a long queue of mostly compatriot fellow passengers waiting to check-in, each with copious, sinisterly bulky luggage, and with every third person or so dialoging with the airline staff to waive excess baggage charges, because so and so in the airline was a mama or chacha.

You recall the aunty by-passing the queue and being checked in separately at a special counter, not meant for ordinary earthlings like yours truly. This counter is only for wheelchair cases, unaccompanied children, other special handling passengers, and …. to start off the RSS right here for some sufferers, mainly for that diverse breed of freeloaders and no-good personages known as ‘VIPs’ back home.

You glance at the aunty as you walk past her rapidly. Her demeanour is unmistakable; the aunty is an old hand at this. She is always booked by her ever efficient travel agent as a wheelchair case. This mainly permits her the redoubtable pleasure of avoiding all queues, and breezing through check-in, security search, immigration and customs. Aunty quite apparently is very much at home, having done this countless times and having perfected the procedure.

Aunty of course had absolutely no issue with walking during her stay in the foreign land, clocking up several kilometers a day, sometimes in high heels, in department stores and malls.

You reach the lounge of your departure gate, gamely trying to counter RSS creeping in with positive thoughts of the bliss you had enjoyed on your trip, and the positives of ‘back home’ where you are heading – family, friends, your own bed!

Is it a glib deceit of RSS, or just your imagination that no one in the lounge looks happy? Must be a RSS manifestation!

All varieties of fellow passengers are present. A child is bawling his head off, while rolling on the floor. The parents appear not to have noticed at all. The father is on his cell phone and the mother is just staring into space.

The flight gets announced. Wheelchair and business class passengers are asked to board first. Aunty is the first to board. Told you she’s an expert! Then passengers from row XX to row YY (back rows) are asked to board next. No one apparently understands this directive. All in the lounge rush forward to the departure gate in something resembling a melee. The airline staff vainly tries to turn back a few passengers not sitting in the announced rows, then just gives up as the desperate mass of people trying to board the aircraft all at the same time pushes its way through with a singular determination.

The RSS prone traveler is by now already deep in the throes of the condition, making his/her way zombie-like to the designated seat, resigned to fate and to the moment. The others, of much stronger hearts, or a much more callous disposition seem least bothered by anything, focusing entirely on how their copious hand luggage can occupy prime space in the overhead luggage compartments, even if it takes up all the hand luggage space of three other passengers. This is raw, survival of the fittest action in real-time!

Any cure for RSS?

There is no known, empirically established cure for RSS.

A lady who lives in Cold Lake, Canada suggests taking a dose of melatonin for a couple of days before going to bed. Your internal clock needs resetting, she says. But ah! It’s not so simple; RSS is least about your internal clock. It’s about your mind!

Ever heard of Cold Lake? It’s in the very north of Canada, near the Arctic Circle. There are probably more people inside Dolmen Centre, Clifton, Karachi, on a hot summer Sunday evening than living in Cold Lake. It’s that small. The thousands in Dolmen are there for a purpose. It’s a fun evening out with the family in a bright, well air-conditioned mall, when home itself is boiling from the summer heat. A large percentage is in fact the residents of the numerous blocks of small, stuffy flats just across the street from the Mall. It’s just the smart thing to do. Come evening, get out of the stifling flat, cross the busy road, enter the liberating coolness of the Mall, and generally hang around till it’s time to go back home and to bed.

Back to cures for RSS. Another friend recommends going into hibernation for a while on re-entry. Says it works for her.

Yet someone else recommends nightly watching on return to base of old-times silent movies – Charlie Chaplain and the like, for a couple of weeks while the mind readjusts back to your specific reality.

Some alleviation of the condition has been reported from clinical trials as occurring in the afflicted persons monitored, from these persons indulging in loud laughter for no reason, for every morning for 27 days upon return, immediately after brushing your

teeth. Why 27 days? Hey, I don’t know. I didn’t conduct the clinical trials!

Intake of large quantities of vitamin-rich fresh juices for several weeks has also been reported in a lifestyle magazine as a cure. I have never tried this, although I can believe that it helps, even if it does not cure RSS.

If anything works for me, it is plunging back furiously into work. As your mind gets fully occupied with professional responsibilities, RSS slips (reluctantly) into the subconscious until your soul gets fully (almost really, never fully) readjusted to the reality around you.

How long before RSS completely leaves your mind? Truthfully, never. For a lot of us. For others it may go by itself in a matter of weeks or even days. But it all depends on the individual in the final analysis. Some may carry a figment of it all their lives. And philosophically speaking, maybe this is not so bad. Life must always have an element of tashnagi (can’t really think of an equivalent English word for this emotion) in it to keep oneself ….. alive.
Re-entry Shock Syndrome-2

One Response to R.S.S and related thoughts …..

  1. Hunaid says:

    Bob,
    Another great article and we can take that journey with you and we can be more amused rather than be disgusted at times.

    The last paragraph left me feeling like you should have given some hope but that may be futile. Is it religion, culture, education or a combination of those and other things!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Hunaid

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