The things we wear and the way they wear us

It was a little past three and like always I had come downstairs with a friend for coffee to the kiosk, adjoining the smoking zone. The beverage along with the condescension of the fashion faux pas of men and women gathered on the opposite, had grown into a sort of a little sport at this time of the day. There’s a faint line between being observational and judgmental and I was way past that. Now don’t ask me who made me this high priest of fashion in the ten kilometre radius, I can’t come up with anything better than “myself”.
He shouldn’t be wearing such shirts, with lungi checks. The heroes from that era are either worm chow or onscreen grandpas.”
“Unless he’s playing a school PT master in a play at workplace, he’s got no business wearing those thick white sports shoes with formals.”
“He’s wearing a black strap watch with tan brown leather shoes.”
 -the nuggets of thought just float around.

Coming to think if it, I’ve been doing this for a while now; playing this sport. But I’ll tell you what, it doesn’t come from a space of elitist entitlement as much as from one of cultivated awareness. Agreed I’m an extremely sarcastic creature by nature, but over the years I’ve come to respect and regard the clothes and accessories as being a representative extension of a state of mind. A navy blue for a sunny mood, robin blue for depth of character, floral patterns on a holiday mood,polka dots to party. Thick checks when chirpy, negligible ones to mean business and a sharp fit for a solid first impression. These are some of the things I’ve picked up over the years from people I looked  up to and the deeper end of my learning curve. It’s not robust rocket science perse, but colours, lights and predispositions interact in a predictable manner to create an impression or an illusion of it at the very least in a certain direction.

I’ve seen many turn up to an event in obnoxious clothes— even the ones who swear by the sanctity of forks and knives at dinner tables and the ones who wait for months together for a specific car color  —without an iota of understanding about the appropriateness. Picture this- a dark-thick guy in a wine red shirt with disco ball depictions and embellished cuffs at a brightly lit wedding gala. Or another one at the same event, in a half sleeve T shirt with multicoloured horizontal lines running across and sandals from village movies about misogyny. While the formers subtle as a sledge hammer, the latter’s a slacker with indifference to his image from a mental menopause. While the first guy should’ve toned it down a lot, the latter should’ve dialled up a lot. The former’s clothes belong in a tribal mating ceremony, the latter’s dressed up for a casual zoo visit with an utter lack of interest. The sad part is both are nice guys with a decent amount of self awareness. Both use overpriced grooming products and get haircuts, the price of a flight ticket. But they’re somehow utterly naive when it comes to the fact that their outfits talk for them and also about them. And so do their watches that resemble lunch boxes with a golden dial.

Clothes exhibit one’s age. personality, grace(or the lack of it).maturity.depth of character and artistic preferences. At times from the foreground and at times from the background, their role keeps changing from one phase of life to another. In our teens and early twenties, anything that was in vogue would’ve caught our attention. We were gullible clean slates who would dress up in a way to highlight our clothes to draw attention to ourselves. Our personalities were at a formative state and it was safe to tow the wagon. So anything that caught attention worked for us- from vibrant colours, loud checks, hooded shirts to even comic print T shirts. These things were making our identity and an easily digestible ersatz persona from the foreground, as the real us lurked back in the background.
But with time, as we age and the personality assumes a vivid shape and form, we pick clothes that would highlight us and remain an ambient amplifier in the background. Flamboyance paves way for laid back charm. Trends get replaced with personal statements. Aesthetics comes before appeal. The equation with the wardrobe changes from us being the soda to the single malt, over time.

Not just clothes, everything including accessories like watches go through a similar tangent. The toyish looking G shocks digitals pave way for Citizen metal straps, which wither away into Seiko leather straps with a minimalist old school appeal. Even the art one consumes changes. Character driven stories begin to appeal to the sensibility over plot driven ones. Rhythm and beats become incessant noise, the heart craves for soothing melodies with specific emphasis on lyrical value. Personal conversations become more and more precious as generic discussion become passe. The proverbial boy has become the man and these things punctuate his transition.

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On being a global individual with a local identity

 

I’m in a certain frame of mind at the fag end of a work day. Standing in my terrace, head’s imploding with epiphanies as waves of cold night zephyrs keep hitting against the chest. Rocketman is playing in my ears. The line “I’m not the man they think I’m at home. Oh no no no…..” play over and over, in my head. Probably because I’m living away come from home, in a new city and could use the comforts of a set of lyrical nails running over the itches of home sickness. But why was I listening to Elton John and not a familiar earworm like Tanhayee, when grappling with solitude? That’s because this song plays over an episode end of Californication, where Hank feels alone and apart from his loved ones. I simply loved Californication and maybe even ended biting up into its aura more than I could chew. As a result,I not just love Hank now, but look up to him to an extent of imitation. Scratch that, internalisation.
That’s probably why I had subconsciously come to outgrow(temporarily) the emotional referencing to Dil Chahta Hai, in a situation like this. Fake and not organic some might argue, such conscious mapping of outbursts to cultural intake. But when common parlance, cuisines and wardrobe can be susceptible to such influence, this doesn’t seem far fledged. Agreed they’re epidermal strokes, at a hardware level. Apples and oranges. An Indian in a Zara sipping a Glenlivet on the rocks is still an Indian, largely. But someone, who summons the spirits of a 1970’s composition of  a British meth addict, to address his state of mind in a dingy Indian lane that resembles a dust bowl and smells like feet, after a vernacular conversation with someone close, is a creature of some transnational complexity. It’s not good or bad, organic or fake. It’s just a lot of upkeep, to keep one’s core individuality from getting coloured in a crisis of such myriad choices.

Let’s now try and deconstruct something very basic, like the perception or the idea of an attractive woman and it’s systematic shift in shape and size at the hands of time and trends.

Take the times of my great grandfather, a little more than a century before. He would have assessed his wife’s appearance in comparison, to the few hundred women past their puberty in his side of the town and behaved with her in a manner that was debonair back then. Naively walked a certain way while she looked, talked a certain way, looked a certain way and smelt a certain way even, based on the collective input of men he looked up to with envy. Cinema was yet to spill over to the streets. Televisions didn’t exist. Phones were a Victorian luxury.

My grandfather’s time coincided with the advent of films into lives and popular culture in this part of the world. Singing men with shoulder length tresses were sex sirens. Railways made hitherto unconnected frontiers, affable. By the time of his wedding, the sample space to yardstick his wife would’ve grown from just the immediate routes his cycle could take him, to the adjoining towns the bus went.

By the time my parents got married, cinema had married into politics; indelibly trickling into day to day life; with tickets and votes flying congruently. Men not just had women from their vicinity to check out, but from other states and ethnicity as well. The sample pool to yardstick one’s partner had grown in size. So earlier, if a guy in Chengalpet was just exposed to women from his area, to base his attraction for a woman who gave him that funny feeling just above his navel. He now, not only had women fraternity from uptown Chennai, but from Kerala, Andhra,Karnataka, Delhi and Bombay to form a collective sample to fashion his attraction for the opposite sex along with the gyrating sirens who toyed with him from the silver screen confines. He was spoilt for choice.

Coming to think of it, I feel I would’ve been better off born a few decades earlier. Because the speed at which the world’s spinning, I just can’t keep up with, without constantly stumbling upon or spilling over, with little time for picking up or cleaning up after. I occasionally flatter myself to be this analog guy in a digital world, but that’s just euphemism for inability to cope up with the multitude of apps and networking fads that keep mushrooming every fortnight to render me a dinosaur. And let me not even begin about how screwed up it is to just find a woman attractive. Every happening place I’m in on a Saturday night, I’ve got women- indigenous and foreign. Then I’ve got actresses and models photo-bombing into my life from their carefully curated Instagram accounts. Almost each one of them looks positively minted out of gyms, hazelnut coated with absolutely no human flaw to relate to or notice, occasionally talking ironical stuff like “the joy of accepting one’s self” with surgically corrected faces. So I just can’t make up my mind on a  girl’s desirability without ruminating briefly on the images of Priyanka Chopra, Ileana, Eva Mendes, Sonam Kapoor, Trisha. an ex girlfriend, Jessica Biel and a colleague. Leave alone love, I can’t afford lust at first sight. There are so many facial symmetries, so  many complexions and so many body types to cross reference to find a middle point of personal taste at even such a very shallow level. I’m not just spoilt for choices, but spoilt somehow by them.

Ten years before, hunger would’ve had a simple fix- to eat. Now, the buck doesn’t stop there, it extends to “what to eat” and culminates in “where to eat”. It’s a beautiful time to live in. No two ways there. Don’t let my dogged pragmatism suggest otherwise. The idea of being a global village isn’t anymore an Utopian aspiration, it’s a tangible reality. I’m a cab ride away from Mexican food. And possibly, Tesla away from Mars. My only concern is, how does one continue to remain peaceful and rooted while walking facewards, into an avalanche of options. At any given point, there’s endless content to consume, endless news to take in, endless information to process and endless possibilities to a stimulate a experience with the intellect,mind and appetite continuing to remain finite concepts.

Our core personality is an extension of our predispositions, school of thoughts, likes, dislikes and inspirations that we pick along the way. This part responds to stimuli in an indelible manner. A stain once left here, remains forever. That’s why we’re consciously molded by the society to be receptive to a certain thoughts and wary to some. This part’s the sanctum sanctorum of our being, the anchor that keeps our shit together through thick and thin.

Then comes the external personality. The one that we project to the world around. This makes instant impressions, not indelibly though. This place is the combined colour of recent experiences and influences, that managed to leave a mark beyond the momentary. So it trips on Woody Allen during misanthropic phases, listens to Rahman to cheer up, wears monochromatic pastal shades to imitate David Duchovny, keeps a stuble to appear deep and commemorates a cold night with the occasional Marlboro. It then trips upon another set of personas, another season, another flavour and it becomes their collage.

The core personality doesn’t let in things that easily. In fact it shuts itself down after a point, to remain predictable and rigid. What it however takes in are strong influences along the way, that question its very fabric of being or the ones that make a convincing argument for an alternate course. The external personality is a naive and boisterous entity in comparison. Its impressionable and responds to what’s loudest, latest and relevant and assumes an accommodating form to stay relevant to a particular state of mind or a season.

The external personality is the one that’s not only just flamboyant, but more accessible from a surface level to an individual. So it barely comes as a surprise when over time, one mistakes it to be his core personality and starts making consequential decisions from here. Unlike the core, the external personality is a finite-brittle space, that tends to clog beyond a point, when confronted by a barrage of stimuli. And at this juncture, when it doesn’t know where to draw the line, come the treacherous roads to identity crisis and insecurities.

While it’s wonderful to soak in the endless possibilities that today’s world has got to offer, it becomes a responsibility in equal parts to choose as to what to let in and what to surface graze,  as these seemingly innocuous experiences go on to endow us with some sensibilities that stay with us for time to come. With habits, cultures, practices and influences from every nook and corner of the world making a steady influx into our living rooms, we’re going to remain inevitable global individuals. Knowing an indulgence from immersion; imitation from immersion and inspiration from imitation would go a long way to allow one to have his voice, amidst the cacophony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

global, stay local. English.
Not so bad to listen to english songs, inspirations good. That can  scale up, imitation not.
Nothing wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Price of privacy in an average Indian household

It’s pretty much like the conundrum of whether the chicken came first or the egg; the influence of movies on the society and the society’s influence on movies.It was in the mid nineties when, Sooraj Barjatya in the north and Vikraman in the south, spearheaded the renaissance of placing family before individual, making a virtue out of it. In the process killing privacy as a collateral necessity, making a vice out of it.You’ll see families in these movie walk in horizontal human chains- members on left and right extremes spilling out of every frame -even to modest places like blood donation camps, invading each other’s bed rooms spreading cutesy and going on picnics together. In this ecosystem, family was no mere crowd, but therapeutic. These movies talked about the trauma of being alone, establishing solitude as a comeuppance should someone dare stray to the other side, in the name of self discovery or love.

If you’re someone who had been raised on a firm diet of Tamil movies in the nineties, chances of having missed this spectacle called Suryavamsam are bleak. For the uninitiated it is one of the several evolutionary-anomaly Sarathkumar movies in which grandfather,father and son all look the same and get played by him. In a pivotal scene in the movie, the son’s kicked out of his house with his share of wealth for daring to get married to the love of his life. Notwithstanding the condescending nature of his overbearing dad, he somehow doesn’t part with the wealth to a farther haven.Because, it is hard after all, for an illiterate man pushing forty to choose between his hateful dad who acknowledges his existence while buying anti-fit khadicraft shirts on birthdays alone on one side and a prosperous life with a loved one on the other. His rather prosperous stay apart from his colony sized family is made to look like a stint at Shawshank prison  throughout the movie’s running time.

The thing about these movies is that the individual always put himself, his love, aspirations behind his family’s and dissolved in its well being.

The resounding success of these kind of conservative- and regressive -family films reiterated the moral code of most families across the board. The elders identified with what was sold off as non negotiable virtues and the youngsters were naive to believe idiosyncrasies to be traditions. These were strictly above-the-belt movies that would sermonize on vanilla values that were digestible, inoffensive and non-debatable. Even when it came to couples, they never went beyond the tropes of innocent stalking, crass duets, wedding ceremony and the coy first night sequence when the shy camera would pan up at the prospect of below the belt activity about to ensue, once the couple were done establishing chemistry over cold milk and ghee sweets. This systematic attitude to over preach sentiments as values and push icky topics below the carpet has systematically percolated from one generation to another to create elders who didn’t respect the post puberty phase of a grown up. For instance If a teenager’s found whispering on landline, the immediate parental instinct would be to launch into stealth mode. Pick the extension from another room and eavesdrop; for it might be a member from the opposite sex. Obviously the nefarious act has to be stopped. For you can’t afford to be friends with him and joke about his flirting skills, right. It doesn’t fall under the Suryavamsam family code.

Another dreaded recurring occurrence in most Indian households must be the Sunday morning special visits. That’s when an out of town relative would pop unannounced into our life like a pimple. But that or their amusingly large breakfast appetite wouldn’t even form the primary concern. Like a frog run over by a lorry, we would peacefully be sleeping in the safe confines of our bedroom in an awkward position when mom would come to wake us up to say, “hello”. Even before your brain can begin to process, a lecture about how showing courtesy to a guest is more important than precious life would begin. This would go on for several minutes. And it would only be a matter of time before her persistence would take the form of a loud scream, promise of a bad lunch or the most dangerous face expression before emotional blackmail. That’s the time when you would know that you’ve got no way out. Your eyes would detest. Your entire body would resent. But you’ll somehow drag yourself to only say that dreadful, “hello” and go back to bed in the hope of better karma.And just when you thought that the misery would be over with the thirty painful seconds, the relative incapable of understanding body language or silent “fuck offs”, would endeavor to stretch your tenure with one sensitive question after another. By the time he/ she gets done with you, you would start hearing the liver churning bile from within.

The sudden invasion of a dad or uncle into bedroom while generating handmade pleasure is one of the most disturbing things to happen to an average Indian teenager. What’s more disturbing than the ocular exchange between the two, would be the awkward silence that follows, as he contemplates euthanizing and the elder behaves like having walked into a satanic mating ritual. The sexual curiosity of the youth, his coming to terms with his own body that’s looking different with each passing day and his sudden mooning over girls his age is something the average Indian  elder diligently pushes under the carpet, courtesy the  Suryavamsam family code.

We in this part of the world never really acknowledge the importance of an individual’s identity. His coming of age, his love, lust, failures, successes and how they shape him as a person. His dreams, aspiration, yearning to create a legacy of his own. His alone time. His spiritual growth. Notwithstanding all this, all that matters is that he has to be married at a certain age. And she has to be married as well by a certain age that often comes a few years before. The dreams can wait, goals can and aspirations…stop joking..are certainly not as important as creating a family at the right time.

Most elders operate with the sole purpose of getting an individual deeper and deeper into the institution of family, drifting him further and further away from himself. Not every flower needs to get into a bouquet, some can look beautiful by themselves. An individual’s privacy has to be respected. His personal space has to be acknowledged after a certain age. And more importantly his values have to be let the place to fashion themselves into something independent, not necessarily agreeable.

 

Patience and parents

Ask for Luxe cinemas on the second floor. I’m standing right next to it
I was giving directions to my dad, who was at the basement car park. I had reached the mall before him. We had come to shop clothes for the two of us, for my sister’s wedding. A loner, I’ve always liked to do most of the stuff alone including shopping. But this time dad insisted on both of us going together, as he trusted my taste and wanted me to assist him look sharp on the D-day. And I couldn’t say no.

Fifteen minutes had gone past and he was nowhere in my viewing perimeter. I had by then already checked out of two shops- hiding a few good shirts in not so noticeable parts of the racks to come back, making mental notes of the price range and condescending a few patrons who came out of the trial room for the want of a quick sport.

My instructions were quite water tight to be there under five minutes. Yet fifteen minutes later, he’s neither at Luxe or the second floor.What’s he up to? Has he turned dyslexic or what?

I was starting to get worked up. I called him again.

“Where are you pa?! I’m getting late to work.”
“I’m on the second floor.”
“Finally. Tell me the name of the shop next to you. I’ll come there.”
“Louis Philippe.”
“I’m coming.”

I walked in long strides towards the Louis Philippe showroom at the other end of the second floor, 150 calories away from where I was. En-route I was cursing the health of the next generation of every individual who was blocking my way, in pursuit of a selfie or stood there making unhurried small talk in the narrow corridor I was trying to weave a way through.
A few moments later, I could see dad appear on my viewing perimeter. Closer I got to him something strange started happening.I was starting to get engulfed in an endless supply of guilt. He was on the bridge connecting the two corridors. He appeared dazed by the hustle and bustle around him, if I were to go by the look on his face that resembled that of a child lost in a festival. Probably all of this was a making of my head and he was quite sorted. But somehow I felt disturbed. The sight of my father standing alone as people kept emerging from all directions around him, made me realize how vulnerable he had become in the world I was an adult. All the angry words I had told him over the years, came screaming back. For all my entitlement and claims of self awareness there I was as one of the worst people I knew.

Sorry raja. I didn’t hear you properly. There’s a theater there. Did you ask me to come  there?” ,sheepishly he asked pointing in the direction from where I had just come.

What do you think Luxe is pa?”, I smiled, embarrassed and guilty at once. “Let’s go, get you some clothes.”

He hadn’t heard me properly. What would he have done I wasn’t here. He neither seems to know the place or fashion. I should hang out with him more. He needs me more than he likes to admit. Fuck my “I’m a loner” rhetoric. And god, I need to be more patient with him.

Every time I’m on the cusp of an outburst with my dad, I hope god or sanity has the better of me. Each time I use a cuss word- that would sound ugly in a roadside brawl even, at him -the guilt sinks in from the very next second. But by then I’m already on a free fall, mind and mouth incongruent to each other.
Whatever the reason be, he’s lived my life’s duration twice and a couple of years more. Unlike me, he’s unconditionally loved me always. His heart is now a soft place, softened by the fatigue of a myriad experiences and his proximity to a second childhood. While mine’s still a hard place, hardened by overbearing confidence and distant memory of a first childhood. It’s my turn to be the bigger man.

When I can be patient in a traffic signal under the afternoon sun; patient with an eternally unreasonable boss at workplace and summon patience in a painfully boring movie just for an actor I like; I can bloody well afford to be patience with this man.
This man who was patient till I uttered my first words. Who patiently ran along side with me, till I started to riding my bicycle without his support. And patiently supported me till I could take care of myself.

I can never give him back enough. But I can definitely be patient with him and gracefully so.

 

 

The price of privacy in an average Indian household

It’s pretty much like the conundrum of whether the chicken came first or the egg; the influence of movies on the society and the society’s influence on movies.It was in the mid nineties when, Sooraj Barjatya in North and Vikraman in the south spearheaded the renaissance of placing family before individual, making a virtue out of it. In the process killing privacy as a collateral necessity, making a vice out of it.You’ll see families in this movie walk in horizontal human chains- members on left and right extremes spilling out of every frame -even to modest places like blood donation camps, invading each other’s bed rooms spreading cutesy and going on picnics together. In this ecosystem, family was no mere crowd, but therapeutic. These movies talked about the trauma of being alone, establishing solitude as a comeuppance if someone dared to stray to the other side in the name of self discovery or love.

If you’re someone who had been raised on a firm diet of Tamil movies in the nineties, chances of having missed this spectacle called Suryavamsam are bleak. For the uninitiated it is one of the several evolutionary-anomaly Sarathkumar movies in which grandfather,father and son all look the same and get played by him. In a pivotal scene in the movie, the son’s kicked out of his house with his share of wealth for daring to get married to the love of his life. Notwithstanding the condescending nature of his overbearing dad, he somehow doesn’t part with the wealth to a farther haven.Because, it is hard after all, for an illiterate man pushing forty to choose between his hateful dad and an extended family that only acknowledges his existence while buying anti-fit khadicraft shirts on birthdays alone, on one side and a prosperous life with a loved one on the other. His rather prosperous stay apart from his colony sized family is made to look like a stint at Shawshank, throughout the movie’s running time.

The thing about these movies is that the individual always put himself, his love, aspirations behind his family’s and dissolved in its well being. One off movies like an Unnal Mudiyum Thambi were rare, where the son at ideological loggerheads with his father abandoned ship. Such movies appealed to a niche, because they didn’t pander to popular beliefs and were seen as isolated Utopian instances.

The resounding success of these kind of conservative- and regressive -family films reiterated the moral code of most families across the board. The elders identified with what was sold off as non negotiable virtues and the youngsters were naive to believe idiosyncrasies to be traditions. These were strictly above-the-belt movies that would sermonize on vanilla values that were digestible, inoffensive and non-debatable. Even when it came to couples, they never went beyond the tropes of innocent stalking, crass duets, wedding ceremony and the coy first night sequence when the shy camera would pan up at the prospect of below the belt activity about to ensue once the couple were done establishing chemistry over cold milk and ghee sweets. This attitude to over preach sentiments as values and push icky topics below the carpet has systematically percolated from one generation to another to create elders who didn’t respect the post puberty phase of a grown up. For instance If a teenager’s found whispering on landline, the parental instinct would be to launch into stealth mode. Pick the extension from another room and eavesdrop; for it might be a member from the opposite sex. Obviously the nefarious act had to be stopped. You can’t afford to be friends with him and joke about his flirting skills, right. It doesn’t fall under the Suryavamsam family code.

Another dreaded recurring occurrence in most Indian households must be the Sunday morning special visits. That’s when an out of town relative would come unannounced into our life like a pimple. But that or their amusingly large breakfast appetite wouldn’t even form the primary concern. Like a frog run over by a lorry, we would peacefully be sleeping in the safe confines of our bedroom in an awkward position when mom would come to wake us up to say, “hello”. Even before your brain can begin to process, a lecture about how showing courtesy to a guest is more important than precious life would begin. This would go on for several minutes. And it would only be a matter of time before her persistence would take the form of a loud scream, promise of a bad lunch or the most dangerous face expression before emotional blackmail. That’s the time when you would know that you’ve got no way out. Your eyes would detest. Your entire body would resent. But you’ll somehow drag yourself to only say that dreadful, “hello” and go back to bed in the hope of better karma.And just when you thought that the misery would be over with the thirty painful seconds, the relative incapable of understanding body language or silent “fuck offs”, would endeavor to stretch your tenure with one sensitive question after another. By the time he/ she gets done with you, you would start hearing the liver churning bile from within.

The sudden invasion of a dad or uncle into bedroom while generating handmade pleasure is one of the most disturbing things to happen to an average Indian teenager. What’s more disturbing than the ocular exchange between the two, would be the awkward silence that follows, as he contemplates euthanizing and the elder behaves like having walked into a satanic mating ritual. The sexual curiosity of the youth, his coming to terms with his own body that’s looking different with each passing day and his sudden mooning over girls his age is something the elders diligently push under the carpet, courtesy the  Suryavamsam family code.

We in this part of the world never really acknowledge the importance of an individual’s identity. His coming of age, his love, lust, failures, successes and how they shape him as a person. His dreams, aspiration, yearning to create a legacy of his own. His alone time. His spiritual growth. Notwithstanding all this, all that matters is that he has to be married at a certain age. And she has to be married as well by a certain age that often comes a few years before. The dreams can wait, goals can and aspirations…stop joking..are certainly not as important as creating a family at the right time.

Most elders operate with the sole purpose of getting an individual deeper and deeper into the institution of family, drifting him further and further away from himself. Not every flower needs to get into a bouquet, some can look beautiful by themselves. An individual’s privacy has to be respected. His personal space has to be acknowledged after a certain age. And more importantly his values have to be let the place to fashion themselves into something independent, not necessarily agreeable.

 

 

On the pride of a blogger

Who are we, the bloggers? The guys who scavenge for left over attention of the reading populace, after they’ve soaked their feet deep enough in works of conventional content creators- “accomplished” authors, columnists, journalists, photographers.

What does the blogging community mean at all in the literary demography? A roof above the head of the heterogeneous clique of greenhorns, wannabes, grumps, prudes, average and awful writers to bring a false sense of entitlement.

The answer for all the politically incorrect rhetoric, would be a resounding “no”, as it obviously comes from me. A “yes” would mean my spot under the sun as a writer was also a making of my delusion, depriving me of a place to continue to bask or an identity to wear as a badge of honour.

There are skills, that need pruning, curating, polishing, assessing and regulating from time to time by a professional body like- medicine, constructing, accounting and law to name a few. And there are skills like painting, singing, dancing and writing that don’t need such external recognition to pursue. The former set belongs in an inflexible square box with overseeing guardian angels from the fraternity. The practice of the same is an external process with an impact aimed at fixing, curing, building, solving or approving something. The outcomes could be in the form of a cured patient, an audited balance sheet, a seven storey structure or a jail sentence. As you can see the performance has a direct impact on the recipient and the society he belongs. Hence the practitioners need to be regulated from time to time. And hence the sheen around the qualification.

Now let’s take the latter pool which thrives on the fresh air outside the square box the former finds itself in. These are creative processes; disruptive, inventive, imaginative with no specific structure to adhere to or fall in line with. They’re primarily works of art. A reflection of the creators moods. A peak into his soul. An artifice to make his ideology palpable to the connoisseurs of the art form he pursues. The stakes are different here. A great piece of music could bring sleep or open tear ducts sealed for ages. A well made movie could advocate a school of thought or propagate a taboo through its mainstream sensibilities. A book could engage, evoke, instigate or just bore to death.  As can be seen, this stream unlike the former, doesn’t necessary leave behind a specific-tangible footprint, necessarily. The outcome or the experience is subjective changing from one subscriber to another depending on beliefs and predispositions.

Coming back to the blogsphere, I see it as a sort of fringe community that exists outside the conventionally recognized art-space. A rebel outfit of sorts.  While there could be an acclaimed Chetan Bhagat doling out one best seller after another, when not commentating on social issues; there could be a rank novice touching upon similar stuff albeit in a classier manner, to a smaller section in his personal blog. While a Vairamuthu might have Rahman to embellish his lyrics, an average joe would put a smile on a fewer lips with his limericks in his wordpress account. A photographer could be crowned by National Geographic, while a better photographer would have his work liked by 83 followers. Apples and oranges, right!

Who is to say, what is frivolous or what is not? The purists or the populists? Does an art form become better because it holds more eyeballs under sway? Or does an artist become smaller because he caters to a niche? Not necessarily. An underrated short filmmaker might be a master of screenplay, while a popular mainstream director could be churning hits after another without the slightest clue. But nevertheless, both are part of the same ecosystem.

We never know what influence our creations would hold on this world. A 220 character poem on childhood might bring a perspective to a parent, a best-seller or parenthood couldn’t. A political article could stir up some fury, if not disobedience; who is to decide we can’t be the final straw to break the camel’s back? . A technical blog could just prevent an ill informed buyer from sinking twenty grand on a mobile with glitches. A story is a story, whether it comes from Ruskin Bond or grandma.The prominence of these creators and their works might scale with time to become something bigger or not. But the work’s their legacy. An extension of them to the world. They could be a lone apple in an orange cart or an apple orchard. Who is to say if it’s enough or not?

On living among gods and religions

It all started in the woods, we were forest people. The first conversation. The first love. The first spittle to make mark it. First time the man got wooden and woman became wet there. The first consummation. The first pregnancy. The first birth. First instance of man manufacturing another life. The forests owned us along with the trees, animals, birds, rivers and rocks. And it was our habitat as much as we were a precarious part of its ecosystem. Precarious because the forests that loomed over us knew that the day wasn’t far off when we would begin to loom over them. And in time loom did we, shrinking them in tandem with our tribe’s endless extension of headcount and greed.

As far as life was in the precincts of the woods and dependent on its resources, we worshiped it. We were a gullible lot; content when it came to needs and sentimental about utility received. We saw the trees that bore fruits, provided shade and let their bodies be used to make our homes as gods. We saw the mountains and the forests that let us live in them as gods. We prayed to the rivers that quenched our thirst, kept our crops alive and transported us. We remained cordial with other creatures some of whom we hunted out of hunger, not for the want of a sport or cuisine curiosity.

Man’s worship of nature went on till the intelligence improved. When it did, worshiping trees, mountains and rivers seemed impersonal. Not just that it was almost defeating to bend down before manifestations who were at his mercy, didn’t talk or look like him. The alpha status of the human race had started to kick in, around the same time his civilization pangs began. He had learnt to demolish, destroy, usurp his way to a better quality of life, the need and definition of which kept changing with time. His peers in the jungle became minorities who were relegated to being- in the zoo; in the circus; in a cage; his pets; in labs; his agricultural machinery; the centre part of a burger, if not his Sunday meal.

As Utopian aspirations took over his soul with him progressing beyond the brink of civilization, the next stop was changing his god, nature. The old god, couldn’t continue to exist in his concrete homes. After centuries of plundering her, he had started to feel more powerful. Not only that, he started to feel that every other manifestation was at his mercy.He appointed himself to be the god’s deputy on earth, picking and choosing utility for other creatures. The milk giving cow was holy, he let it be alive and domesticated. The bull was strong, but tasty as well; he let it either toil in the fields or boil in the stove. The dog was faithful and protective, he let it live and watch.

But he needed someone mighty above him to god him. His god had to look like him, talk like him, possess supernatural prowess and be a much, much better person than himself. So with time, he started scouting for gods among his tribe. The virtuous, the powerful and the honourable among him were celebrated as gods. With time he spun their lifetimes into folklore, passed it onto the next generation. And the next. And the next. And it went on. His gods were growing in stature through his imagination and Chinese whispers.
He put this god in charge of everything beyond him and above his control. So if a meteor struck, it was god’s doing. If it rained during a famine, it was god’s doing. If he wanted or didn’t want something badly, he turned to god. If he got what he wanted, god gave him. And if he didn’t, god chose not to give him. His birth started with god and his death took him there. Life became peaceful with accountability for the unknown shifted to another entity. The suspense account in his balance sheet finally had a name.

With god appointed, the next necessity was to regulate, preserve and curate gods. For which he designed a way of life around them and called it religion. Religions were nothing but philosophies,prescriptions, dos and don’ts, procedures to tread along the path of a certain god. God might’ve formed the religion, but it is religion that put a roof over his head and a sanctum sanctorum around him. This difference from one god to another were the things they stood for differed, their ethnicity and as a result, their teachings.
The transition of religions is a curious one. Over time, religions became competitive institutions, breeding grounds for one-upmanship among their affiliates. Religions also started becoming cannibalistic creatures that would often feed on one another, poach followers from one other and even bringing chaos and destruction over peace and prosperity. How much the followers consumed beyond the surface level of hymns and austerities is another thing. From nuclear ecosystems of worship they grew in stature to become formidable scaffolding to political belief, to fashion the way countries were ruled.

With god and religion being appointed to point fingers at a direction above or within, the next endeavour was to get to the bottom of a happening or a consequence. Thus was born Karma, the spiritual excuse for coincidence. If hardwork didn’t bring results, it was one’s karma. If dumbness kept prosperity intact, it was a forefather’s karma. Karma became the reason for god’s discretion.

With every invention, scientific breakthrough made life definitely became easier. The effort out of processes gets drained. The satisfaction increases; the quality of output improves. Life becomes that simpler. If once there was a phone to talk, camera to take pictures, radio to listen to songs, theatre to watch movie, computers to automate work and compass to find directions; today’s smartphones are all of that rolled into one and more. Not only has the quality of communicating improved or the world shrunk in size, but utility of several gadgets are found in one place. But while breakthroughs no wonder make life simpler, they don’t necessarily make it happier. They’re materialistic influences that have an impact, largely external. Add an A/c to a car, journey becomes cooler. Add a stereo, you could hum a few songs along the way. Have a GPS, it spoon feeds with the navigation. And add to it a seat that reclines, your back is pampered. The purpose of the car doesn’t change. The destination doesn’t. Just that every breakthrough makes the journey that comfortable. That’s the thing about comfort it distracts you from yourself by the external experience.

That’s where the last, but strongest stop of the god-religion shebang comes, the internal personality- the soul. The concept of soul is that every individual is made of an inner manifestation that regulates his conscience. It neither has a beginning nor an end. Like water, it takes the shape and color of the person it is within, reflecting his state of mind. The soul needs to be at peace for the individual to be happy. Some agree. Some laugh. Some diss. But for the sake of this rather long piece not turning longer, let’s agree.
The thing about the soul is it doesn’t get influenced by sensory experiences that bring comfort, entertainment and desire fulfillment. So while biriyani might be sumptuous food ,the soul would remain hungry. A good article might be food for thought, but the soul would still crave.

Religions and gods address the soul. For all of them through their teachings and philosophies single-mindedly pay attention at enriching this entity. While we can debate the soul’s existence, we can’t but agree about how the core of every religion is directed towards the internal journey of an individual. Religions don’t address hunger, education, entertainment or travel, but talk about karma, good deeds, virtues and salvation instead through anecdotes and holy verses, that are largely abstract concepts. That’s why the eternal appeal of religion and faith that attend to the internal itches.

While there is a price to most commodities and awareness of the place to get them from, there’s neither a price for an abstract commodity like peace of mind leave alone a place to get them from. Given the fact that eight out of ten people are believers in a higher power or faith that gives them a ticket to it, the few who claim to know the whereabouts of god, salvation, karma automatically become monarchs in a seller’s market that can put a price it deems fit. Because as far as soul-searching goes, neither the pain or the antidote are defined; nor are the search and the eventual discovery.