Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cultural Consciousness.


Yesterday I was talking to a friend and bemoaning our mutual inability to make true conversation. We were discussing how all our conversation has become about things we read or see instead of being centred around people and daily happenings of our lives. By the end of that conversation, I was acutely aware of how I have tried to mask the actual paucity of activity in my life by distracting the humans I attempt to engage sporadically with by discussing cultural trivia - if my scanty knowledge of movies and books may be termed as such. 

While it is disturbing how a lover of gossip such as I has been transformed into that annoying friend whose only attempt towards making connections is talking about things others thought of, I have tried to rationalize the effect that globalization and internet access has had on me. So I spent my twenties watching things on the internet via piracy. Big deal. It distracted me long enough to forget the mind numbing monologue of boredom always on and ever present in my mind. 

Of course, this making-peace-with-myself rationalization is problematized when I come across channels on youtube where people have taken this magpie like obsession of collecting pop culture references to the highest levels of intellectual thought and creative research. When my inflated sense of self clashes with the well constructed world of true passionate cultural nosediving, I am forced to face the waste that I have become. The smallness and paleness of my 'hobby' in the face of actual effort constantly reminds me how pathetic my existence really is.

Why go on then ? Why continue to watch and read and keep trying so hard ? Honestly, most days I do look for an out. But not today ! While I was taking a bath some minutes ago, I was remembering the episode of Masterchef I had watched in the morning and somehow I fixated on the jelly that this one contestant had forgotten to add to the final dish. By the time I made my way back to my table, jelly was on my mind and four distinct references to jelly came to me- the first was of course, the troubles of poor Meg March (from Little Women ) whose jelly just wouldn't jell and the great dashing of her housekeeping dreams and the cruel inability of her husband to sympathize with her woes; the second, was remembering Manto's amazing short story about the child who gestures to the road where the iceman lay dead, on whose bloody body the melting ice from the cart had continued to drip on, resulting in a red coagulation on the road. This coagulation is what attracted the child who points it out to his mother and exclaims "look ma, jelly !" ; the third was of course, the very funny Office gag of putting Dwight's/Gareth's  stapler in a bowl of jello/jelly; then there was the entire gamut of 'shake your belly like a bowl full of jelly' including but not limited to Chandler's Santa Clause; finally, as I finished writing this, I remembered Rosesh Sarabhai (who has been on my mind due the the return of the Sarabhais on TV) and the 'lapull - lapull' and 'plup-plup' of jelly. I could write an entire piece on the different situations conveyed via the use of 'jelly' to explain and engage a gamut of our sympathies and emotions. I feel rich in expression at the mere thought !

What purpose does this serve? Nothing truly worthwhile or original of course, BUT it does make me feel better about myself. I think that is the beauty of culture, you can find connections where none exist, and sometimes the ability to reach out and make these links, even while you take a bath, makes the loneliness of talking to yourself while in the bathroom far more interesting and bearable. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ma ke Masoom Sawal: Main Hairan aur Pareshan Dono.



My mother very poignantly with great feigned trepidation but much perverse curiosity asked me if I was 'sexually normal.' I wish I could say I was shocked at her audacity, but mostly I was just a little flabbergasted contemplating the missed opportunity for exercising my narcissism  because I had never sat down and evaluated my sexuality on the rigors of the deeply etched behavioral scale we all carry in our minds. I asked, if she was asking, whether I was a lesbian - she said 'no no ! I am asking, if you are, you know, normal' - curiouser and curiouser ! I laughed a breathy laugh, and told her that no I was not a lesbian and I have never really concentrated too much on the possibility or my desire for real, actual sex.

This is the funniest life anecdote I have gathered in a very long time. I look forward to building it up with funny interjections and laboured pauses to build it up to the dramatic crescendo I know it has the potential to reach. But for the larger part, I am genuinely shocked into the realisation that my sexlessness has reached a scale where my very Indian, very middle class mother is worried about my not getting any. I wonder what a colourful stereotype I must be in her mind - it would have been wonderful to be that complicated. In reality however, I just don't have it in me to take seriously this concept which is always so beautiful in fiction and so banal in the manner it happens in real life.

Or I will just ask my mother if she wants me to join Tinder. Where all idealism and belief systems lay dashed, my romantic notions may also meet their fateful demise.