Broiler Chicken and An American Dream

Broiler chicken is a type of chicken raised specially for meat production. Broiler chickens grow in a shed filled with thousands of them and usually get only less than a half a square foot of living space. That’s less than the size of a computer mouse pad. They’re given steroids to grow bigger than their ancestors so they can be slaughtered sooner. Many develop crippling leg disorders because their legs cannot support their abnormally large bodies and die of dehydration in the shed before they are slaughtered.

These barren and confining conditions deny animals’ an opportunity to express natural behaviours, and lead to physical and behavioural problems. There is social chaos as thousands of chicken’s mill about, with too many birds for a well-defined pecking order to develop. Normal behaviour patterns are impossible. Individuals become stressed and aggressive to neighbours. After 45 days, the broiler chickens are transported to various places for their consumption. Often we would notice on road, vans carrying hundreds of chicken with each bird hunting for a tiny space to even stand.

The planning starts as early as the mother conceives a child. Parents brain storm and narrow down their choices to few top notch schools in the city where they would prefer to have their child admitted. They work out strategies for both girl and boy child. Once the child is born, they explore the possibilities of shifting their place of residence closer to the school. One of the criteria schools stipulate is that the residence should be within 5 Kilo meter radius of the school.

In an age of nuclear families, with mothers increasingly becoming career oriented, the child is sent to a crèche as early as age one, where the child would be confined to a tiny room with many other children. Once the child reaches two, he or she gets admitted to a preschool. (These schools prepare children to secure admission in the dream school of the parents). Parents are proud, when the child utters a few words in English and recites rhymes, in its inimitable toddler’s dialect.

When the child reaches age three, it is real time for getting admission into the dream school. It is mandatory that, at the time of joining the Lower Kinder Garden, the child should have completed age three. Those few unlucky ones that miss the three years by just a few days or a month will have to wait one more year for admission. A smart parent knows the trick – change the date of birth through the Government officials, so that the child does not have to wait for the next academic year.

The dream schools will not specify the date of issue of application. Starting March, parents march to the schools to regularly to check for the application. The schools give only few hundred applications and that too on first come first served basis. The night before the day of issuance, one can witness hundreds of couples standing in queue adjacent to the school compound. Rest of the year the space adjoining the school may be royally used for public conveniences.

The ordeal does not stop with the application form. The student and the parent get ready for an interview. The admission is given based on various criteria like parents education, parents’ financial strength and so on and so forth.

Even the best of the schools in the city does not spare the child after the school hours as the child needs to attend extra-coaching classes to get high grades and to stay at the top. Parents happily acknowledge these additional hours put in by the child.

Modern day parents know that mere education is insufficient. The parents are eager to unearth all the hidden talents of the child, and to develop the child in different skills which, unfortunately, neither of the parent could acquire during their times. Therefore, the child wakes up at 5 am and attends either swimming or tennis. After these morning activities, the child gets ready for school. For breakfast, modern packaged cereals and health drinks are provided to keep the child healthy. No more idlis and dosas.

Once the child comes back from school, it is advised that he or she joins music or dance class. Some children will have inherent talent for playing instruments like their great-grand father. So in the evenings the child spends his/her time at fine arts classes. No more street games and unwanted chatting with neighbourhood kids. If the child still insists on playing foot ball or cricket, is provided with hand-held play-stations. Rain or shine the child can play any game indoors.

At six in the evening, considered being an ideal time, the child is expected to complete the home work. At 8′ o clock, they finish dinner and preferred to do some objective mathematics through an online website before withdrawing to bed. This routine goes on and on till the child finishes schooling at the age of 17.

Since, in the highly competitive world, children need to score high marks in the school final. During the years of board examinations, games and fine arts activities are stopped and emphasis is more for additional classes in academics. Children normally will not go out and play. Even if, they choose to, he or she may not find other children as each child will be using his/ her time prudently for learning foreign languages – German or French.

The child with this quantum of preparation both at school and at tuition centre, obviously, scores very high marks. The golden rule is throughout their school exams, even if he or she scores even more than ninety percent the parent should pretend as if it is a low score and will be insufficient for admission into a college and the course which the child desires.

Eventually with good marks, the child, by now a grown up, joins a course of choice at the best of the engineering colleges. In modern engineering colleges, life inside the campus is no different from that of a school. Every day, early in morning the college bus picks them up. Except dinner and bed everything else is provided in the college, of course at a fancy price. The boy/girl will not only prepare for his/her engineering exams but also for TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, GATE, UPSC etc., The student is being continuously monitored and assessed for his/her performance. The objective of the college is to train students in engineering to roll them out like a robot. By the time, the student reaches his or her last semester, big software companies visit their campus and provide placement in their companies for a fat salary. Either he/she takes up the job and settles in one of those companies or pursues further for post-graduation in one of the universities in the west.

Once he/she gets an admission there is an air of celebration for this fete. Proud parents are elated on the admission. Preparation for the overseas visit begins. Telephone calls are made in all directions informing of this wonderful achievement. The message even travels to overseas friends and relatives. Social media like Face book and twitter are quite handy to help in this. Grand Parents are happy and content when they hear their grand-child’s voice through phone or on Skype.

Visiting all relatives and friends will be one of the main items on the schedule. Hundreds of suggestions and advices pour in from all directions – ranging from which airline to be chosen to what kind of clothes to carry.

On the day of departure, scores of people turn up to give a farewell at the airport. Though initially the visit is for a two year post-graduation, most likely, it extends for a doctoral program and later for an employment.

In the meantime, the hunt is on for a suitable boy/girl for wedlock. The important criterion is that she/he should be modern in outlook and traditional in his/her thoughts. He/she should hold the values of the past, present and future. More importantly he/she should have already applied for green card.

One fine day wedding takes place. Within a week after the wedding, the couple takes off.

On the day of departure, there are mixed feelings for parents, a sense of achievement of a lifetime (whose life ???) goal and a time to miss their dear ones for a long time or sometimes permanently. Tears roll down the parents’ eyes as they drive back.

On their way home, by any chance if they see a van carrying hundreds of broiler chickens, it is a sheer co-incidence.

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G. Olivannan

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