Friday, September 23, 2011

Uttar Dakshin Purab Paschim

Well there's this major blog battle going on because a South Indian girl wrote some vitriolic stuff about Delhi boys here. The Madrasan, as she calls herself, has been lauded but has also been at the receiving end of major Delhiite outrage.

For my part, I think the girl is sharp but immature. Her post crossed the fine line between being humorously sarcastic and being genuinely nasty. And because generalisations are always crap. Just because she met an obnoxious Delhiite or two (or more) doesn't really mean that she can lambast the whole breed. Also I think that in this time and age, people would be more broadminded and judge (if they must) based on individuals not on communities or skin colour or gender.
Most reactionary posts that I read were not half as biting or offensive as hers was. Here's one which I particularly liked. Funny, witty and makes some good points. My only concession to the Madrasan would be that she has the 'right to write' what she wants to on her blog.

But her post shows that most people are still quite happy to play 'us vs. them' games. I guess its human nature to want divides. Being different is not always cool, sometimes its almost a crime. What else would explain all the communalism and regionalism that we still see these days. People want separate states (as if India didn't already have enough of them), people want to rename states to bring it closer to the regional name (a dumb idea if ever there was one!)...

I am a South Indian born and brought up in the Eastern part of the country and I speak fluent Bangla. Most people commend me for it and express their astonishment. By now, I have explained to several hundred Bengalis that the reason behind this is because I have been born and brought up in the East, because I have several close friends who are Bengali. Most don't seem quite convinced. In their eyes I'm still something of a rare bird. The other day a woman commented that "you people come from outside and learn to speak our language so well, I don't think I could do the same." I forebore to tell her that in today's age, when we have the freedom to travel and settle in any part of the world, to talk about 'coming from outside' is a moot point. I realised that telling her that my family had been settled in the East for a few generations had not made a difference to her. So I let her enjoy her blistering parochialism (or candour depending on which view you take). After all it takes all kinds.

I think its okay to be attached to a place, its historic grandeur, its warm people, its cute foibles and its appalling laziness. Its a bit like how one feels about friends - the funny one, the caring one, the full on masti one. One doesn't discriminate between friends basis community, religion or skin colour. I listen to generalizations but I react to individuals.
But sometimes I do feel that I am expected to align myself to a particular way of thinking and being. As if tying me down would give me more freedom. I resent this. I intend to set up a Non Aligned Movement of my own. And so I won't get into any discussion of Delhi boys and Southie gals...just tell me when you meet a nice PERSON.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Il Pensoroso

I find myself reliving the past more and more often these days. I think of the good times and the bad. I remember the simple pleasures and the complicated sorrows. I remember the heartwarming surprises, the lazy days in the winter sun, the chatter of familiar voices all around. I remember the trivial problems that seemed so huge. I remember the secret tears and unarticulated fears.

I don't know why but I feel quite a disconnect with the way of thinking these days. I am quite happily ensconced in the Chitrahaar era as far as my most of my beliefs go. I believe in the value of family, respecting elders, in true love, in wide-eyed innocence, in shyness as an acceptable virtue...in a simpler, less hedonistic way of living. I surf the net to connect to the world, I shop to feel good and I aim for a bigger house...but I remember a time during those long, familar power cuts when friends, family, neighbours sat around a communal aangan, drank endless cups of chai and chatted about everything under the sun to pass the time. Sometimes I participated, sometimes I just let their words wash over me like a river of warmth. Sometimes I read my storybooks by the light of a candle. Sometimes I made up poems and fairytales to tell the other kids.

I think of "multiverses" or alternate universes sometimes. It refers to the idea that there are multiple universes where maybe you also exist but your life has taken a different turn. You are not a mother of two kids settled in happy domesticity but a free-spirited adventurer. Or it could even be that time is not a contunuum as we perceive it, but an infinite series of parallel universes. This means that every moment that I have lived exists as a separate data point somewhere. I think that maybe, while I sit here typing out this post so full of yearning for days irretrievably gone by, there could be a world where that life still exists. Somewhwere in the vast mysteries of space and time.

After all think of how little we know about how the world was created. We run about our daily lives, one among the billions who inhabit a small rock suspended in what we call space. A space that has no beginning and no end. I find this incredibly awe-inspiring and scary. The idea that there is no beginning, no middle, no end to it all. How many other worlds are there? Is space really infinite? It boggles the mind to think of all these spheres spinning silently in eternity, sprouting life forms. Life forms who over aeons manage to complicate their life in incredible ways. We really forget or maybe we don't want to remember that at the end of it all, you are just an insignificant speck in the universe.

Yeah...its an effing trippy post.