More and more the society around was becoming alienated. Moving to this new town couple of years back there was a sense of homecoming for him. The feeling of things turning for the good was the resounding theme. He was least perturbed by the surrounding chaos, pushing you around like the famed Mumbai local. Though much of the old charm was hidden by the new, there were nooks and corners where you could relive the last decade.
Change is much like the turbulence which you face while on an aircraft. You know the certainty of it. But every time the air-borne beast dives head long into that patch your innards shudder a bit, grip tightening on the seats as if putting an effort to stabilise this disturbance. And most often it last for 20-30 seconds only. People have some standard responses in these situation. You will always find that family where the dad will be gripping the kids more so to comfort himself than the tots who will be writhing to get free. Then there is the ones with the slight hint of concern on their face, glancing from the corner of their eyes how the person next is coping with this. And always the cool ones, with no bother of the happening around either immersed on the song playing on the earphones or the book they seem not to be able to keep down.
He was like the second one on really good days and third one most the time of conscious existence. Lately the town had begun to lost it’s lure on him. He couldn’t quite separate this feeling from the turbulance he was going through in his personal life. There was a constant pressure to go out of his way of things to fit to an external demand. On occasion it was from his inner circle, the true bastion of self expression, and other occasions from the society. Many a time distinction is hard. Demands on him were to curb those, in favor of conformance and a misplaced sense of responsibility. The consequences was his and his only to bare. Others seem to have dismissed that like the most ludicruos connection could exist between the two.
You get a feeling in some situations that the vents are closing down fast. Lest you make the move the steer is gonna be yanked out of your hands and passed on to the next in line. With no certainty of when you will be able to be in charge the next time. He was in that space at least in it’s head. Outwards he was wearing the third type’s mask. He looked around the airplane to wonder has he got company here?
…..to be continued.
Today I came across an essay-turned-book: The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna. As the title suggests the book elaborates on the Should’s we all conform to, part influenced by the society and part owing to our cowardice, and the Must we ought to choose. I don’t claim to have read the book but will try to force my two-penny opinion onto you.
There is no dearth of advisers in our life. You are surrounded by them every moment of your active life, especially if you are in India. Hell, you even get advised on the direction you should face while shitting. Growing up in such a scenario we cant be blamed for choosing the Should’s most of our life. And to be fair to the conformists that’s a cozy and charming life. And most of all it makes people happy. It gives your near and dear ones a right to brag, of being-one-of-the-million corporate-sucking-arrogant-self-righteous-thumb-twiddling-douche-bag with moolah to buy the latest stuff. Who will leave such a life for a shit-load of must!
Many a conversations I had with friends who hate the Should’s they have been made to take, mind you most from some of the best schools in India, end up in wishful thinking and self-bashing. Its a should they were forced to choose now forcing their actions. Oblivious to it they still think in their self-righteousness I am the master of my decisions. You may ask whats wrong in it, till you are happy. For most it doesn’t matter. But for some, Life in retrospect is as worthy as life in the present. For those it matters you chose your musts in between the shoulds.
And to use the metaphor of a cross-road will be to give the Must more than its due than is given everyday. Its more of a gully – side lane most often shunned as its windy and narrow and slimy. Luna equates must to an inner calling which defines you and pursuit of which will keep you truly happy. As in all true quests its an uncertain, perilous, arduously long one laden with self-doubt, monsters and the like. And the beauty of it is not at the destination, but in the course of it. That makes the journey of Must so special.
Nobody will force you to take that path. Unless you have a guardian angel, they seem to be in short supply these days anyway. But if there is a voice strong enough in your head and a bursting self-confidence then take that gully for a distance. Even if you get lost, the people shouting Should’s are always around the next corner.
Bhai got convicted! Emotions of surprise, angst, sadness, elation, anger, disbelief, motherly-love, heartbreak and what not ran through the Indian diaspora as in a Karan Johar movie. Twitterati broke its ‘choodiyan’ at the verdict and ranted about how good a person Salman and how he changed fortunes of quite a few damsels in distress.
Indian judiciary is known for delivering and upholding justice at all costs, no matter how slow and tedious the process gets. For a judicial system which took 4 years to hang a terrorist who spewed fire at a crowded train station, 13 years is not a big time in comparison giving verdict in a hit-and-run case. Look at the stakes here. A bunch of homeless people, one of whom happened to get run over, against a movie-star churning 200 Crore movies like no big deal. Lets accept the facts here; the bunch who were run over were forgotten in a weeks time, they getting the justice so deserved was lost in the stories fabricated by the skilled but brain-dead advocates, emotional melodrama of Salman’s kin and speculations on how the homeless fucks will get screwed over by the whole incident. I believe at the high echelons of Indian judicial system are sitting Zen monks with such heightened levels of tolerance that they are impervious to the brain-numbing arguments put forth to divert such a plain-vanilla case.
And then there is the curious case of Indian public. We are the only audience who will go to a movie, tap with the music, laugh at the mindless jokes, fist-pump with the hero and then come out of the theater and say ‘kya chutiyaap tha’. Post the Salman verdict, the discussions turned to whether he deserved such a ‘harsh’ punishment and how he will complete ‘Bajirao mastaan’ from jail. The fact that it took 13 years for justice to be delivered seems of little concern here.
So will this deter future occurrence of similar incidents? Did this set an example? Definitely yes. This should push the prostitutes of judiciary-lawyers to hone their skills and work on their plot crafting skills to better defend their clients. A dummy taking blame and drank-water-at-a-bar arguments are so lame that even Rohit shitty will take a piss at those. For the homeless people, a strong example has been set and they should learn from this. That they count for shit in this country and you better learn to sleep with one eye open, like the whale, if you gotta live. An SUV is always lurking nearby.
‘Why don’t you do anything about that scar?’ not the first time a passing acquaintance having made that comment, I let it pass with a perfunctory smile. In a society obsessed with perfection blemishes are seldom viewed with kindness and scorned at with a vengeance. Society has become incapable of viewing scars as anything else but ‘something which should be removed/hidden’. An explanation to why a scar is of significance in some one’s life will mostly meet deaf ears and at the most elicit sympathy. This is a humble effort at putting it in a different perspective. For those with an open mind.
Cycling to school was a luxury in those times and circumstances I was brought up. On an uneventful day cycling back home from a tiring session, giddy in the headwind, the slope was inviting. Cruising down,halfway I realized the brakes have failed. Frantically holding onto the brakes with all my might and too terrified to try any manoeuvres I froze. Rest of it is all but a blur. The rocks, banged up cycle, rush in a rickshaw…. Waking up two days later in an emergency ward I was lucky to escape with only 15 stitches, on my head. No, it was not a life changing incident. Neither I had any revelations coming to me.
I have carried the scar of that incident, literally, for 14 years now. For me it’s a reminder, a check. Reminder of the compassion shown by total strangers to rush me to the hospital after giving me the right first aid. Reminder of the love and affection of my family who waited with anxious prayers outside that ICU. Its also a check when I get too heady with success to the uncertainty ahead. A check for the occasional narcissistic tendencies.
I am sure each of the scars you carry screams out a story. Many a times the physical scars don’t bother us; but the emotional ones do. The mistakes we made, failures we encountered, the breakups, the rejections; some of our own making and some of others. The reactions to these scars are three types. Hanging on to them tragically: Ignoring or hiding them under patches: Accepting them for what they are. Most fall in the first two categories. Is it wrong to do so? Certainly not. Its your choice. The hell, it might even keep you happy. But the question to be asked is which of these actions is of highest quality, which can better yourself. That should be the wise choice.
I cant help but quote Rumi here ‘The wound is the place where the Light enters you’. It’s our duty to let the light enter. To accept a scar for what it is.
Oxford dictionary defines good as ‘Being positive or desirable in nature’. Gurucharandas in his book Difficulty of being good expounds various facets of ones dharma in the context of the greater good. Good has always been scrutinized from the perspective of the external; good to poor, good to society, good to parents. Nobody talks about being good to self, or rather used to.
We are living in an era of great social change. There is a movement sweeping the land. Of individualism. If books and movies were a reflection of the societal trends a couple of decades back, one just has to look at the social media to see the present trends. Its reflected in the voicing out from all quarters of the society through campaigns such as Kiss of Love, Anti-Beef ban, Anti-Censorship, Pro-gay movement and many more. Good is being redefined.
In this context, what is being good? Is it vehemently guarding your liberal point of view to an extent being obnoxious to others? Is it being narcissisticly putting one’s self out there? Is it voicing the opinion of the oppressed few blinded by logic and driven by emotions?
In the pursuit of private good let the common good not be subdued – replaced by a privately common good, and by that I mean good defined by me and the cause I support. Many a times in pursuit of this cause, of being liberal, we are consumed by the blind obsession with it that we become the oppressor. That’s a reason why we see lot of hatred these days spewing venom in the social media.
I have seen many of my modern age liberal friends blatantly hammering a conservative (by this I mean person with a different opinion from the herd), almost resembling a mob. The irony of the situation was that the topic of discussion was anti-beef ban which is an issue with major moral and religious backdrops. What is the good in this mob behavior, even though the end is justified?
Moderation might be the pill doctor should prescribe for the situation. But then are there any takers?
My affair with Social dancing lasted 4 months. Beginners level course in Salsa. The Garden City, Bangalore. I moved on. One particular scene hung on in my memory from those days.
Just one month into learning Salsa and there I was at a Socials, a weekly gathering of salseros to mingle and dance away into night, humbled and impressed by the professionals around me. The place was dark and had a sensuousness about it. Being the amateur that I was, asking a female to dance meant certain embarrassment in-front of an experienced crowd. So there I sat pretending to be occupied drinking beer. And then I saw her. Wearing a knee-length turquoise green dress and sipping onto her glass of whiskey. She had put on a blood red shade of lipstick contrasting beautifully with her unblemished fair skin. She was too perfect to be sitting alone in such a setting. Well the sight of her made me wanna dance. Unlike I thought, asking her to dance was the toughest part. Sweaty palms and ‘Eye of the tiger’ playing in my head. The track changed to a Bachata number. Knowingly smiling at my uncertainty she moved in closer and wrapped her shapely legs around me. Her breath brushing my chin. A fruity scent numbing all other senses. The closeness excited as well as made me recoil a bit. The moves were hers. The lead mine. At the end of the track I blurted out ‘Thanks’ and took her excuse. I never hesitated in asking a girl to dance ever. Neither did I meet her ever again at the Socials.
This was 6 years ago.
In retrospect the reasons for leaving salsa were two fold. One was a flawed sense of morality and the other a forced conformance to the society (Indian Society). The morality in question was of physical intimacy with the opposite sex in a social manner. That explains the ‘recoiling’ at her proximity. The critical elements here were intimacy and social. In an upbringing (hardcore Indian) which stressed on extreme conservatism & reservation in public and in a society intolerant to mingling of the opposite sexes, the elements used together was a gross violation of the moral code. The conformance to society was on account of the attitude of my peers towards the dance form. That of mocking. The fact that its a dance form was met with ridicule in many quarters and was often reduced to a skill to have a chance at picking up chicks. Probably an art form of low quality. And I played along not wanting to alienate them.
I could not have been more wrong. And more coward. While Salsa gave me confidence and a better hold of rhythm, what I offered in return was disloyalty. Let me make amends now.
In the recent years we have seen the moral code being flexed and a collective moderation of tolerance levels through increased interaction of opposite sex, mingling of people from various castes and states, experimentation in cinema and theater with sensitive themes. AIB’s roast and Kiss of Love campaigns are all rays of hope in this muddled landscape of accepted morality. Social dancing can play a critical part in this broadening as it promotes intermingling between diverse groups and increased interaction between the genders. It is high time Social dancing be viewed through a different lens than of physical intimacy and ‘scoring’.
The apathy of society towards social dancing seems more deep-rooted. A society whose social dancing reference would be a dance form called ‘Dandhiya’, where couples dance round and round with sticks on a festive occasion, rooted in religious tradition and originated from a weapons training ritual can accept only so much. Even modern day social dancing in marriages and pubs is mostly limited to vigorous shaking of body, almost animalistic, where grace and intimacy can go kiss a donkey’s arse. And the hypocrites we are, we call Salsa a low quality dance form. A dance form with synchronized movements filled with twists, turns and dips. A dance form which gives you confidence and a pride in your body form. No definition of quality will put Salsa in the ‘low’ folder. If only there was a salsa themed baarat!
I hope I meet her one of these days again. I owe her an apology; and a dance.