Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who are we?

Today, the pure power of deep skin cleansing and a strong spurt of a mouthful of frothy, pasty plaque fighting protection is indispensable when we begin our day. The aroma of re-sealable packs of Bru and strong slurps of Nescafe at nights demarcate are insomniac activities and the break of dawn.

The lather of the soft creamy ‘bathing bars’ to therapy healing shower gels make us squeaky clean. From the checkered Burberry Brits to the chocolate boy Axe’s, we smell well but smell no different.

We consume cholestrol free oil, yet we gorge on ghee smeared parathas and motichur laddoos. We run with pace on the tread-mill with the ipod plugged in, yet we climb briskly on escalators and press elevator buttons repeatedly. The low cuts and the slim fits we like to flaunt after ogling at mannequins behind glass walls, not quite thinking that the same pair might look hideous if not well fitted.

The khus syrup has given way to Breezers, the nimbu pani to LMN. The subtleness of All India Radio has been stung by the hotness of Mirchi. Even Floyd’s rythym, Metallica’s beats and Beatles melody trapped in compatible discs are being released open by the green ‘mu’.

We have become comfortably numb.

Who are we?

We are today’s consumers. The life-line of today’s brands.

The sky stares at me with its vastness. It is dreadfully empty today. No shiny specks glittering in the dark macrocosm. No moon emanating the white aura, just enough for the legibility of the words in my Nabokov’s Lolita, which I attempt to read with intent sitting comfortably next to my high-rise window pane.

The very same words in the e-book, which I happened to stumble upon, on one of my many net browsing expeditions, might bring a soothing satisfaction to the monetary affordability one faces at the billing counter at Crossword, but it cannot substitute the charm of a book being held with one’s very own hands. Just as you held me when we departed.

The conversations and glances that we exchanged with ease have turned into combination of binary digits of zeroes and ones, waiting to be transported by electrical signals. We were growing slow, yet it seemed fast. And now with signals claiming the fastest 3G ever, everything seems slow. When did this distance grow?

We stare at the same sky, I wonder. Flickering and stagnant lights of the entire city create an oxymoron so powerful that makes me realize the distance yet not the difference of you not being near. Time will pass and so shall the buildings change, with their red lights flashing at regular intervals to warn susceptible heightened dangers to stay away. So will the distance between us grow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fulfilling fastidious fancies

A dimly lit room. The stench of local liquor overpowering the sweet smell of aromatic flowers. The pulsating and gyrating music of Bollywood, shaking the low watt sound system. The entire room flickers and so does the soul creating a trance that forces to leave commitments and flee to a world to watch a woman so powerful that she can attract a thousand gazes and yet make every male feel ‘She’s the One’.

“All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players”.

She plays her charms with her waist long locks. Her naturally long straight hair artificially permed for appeal dances around in flashes amidst the dark stare of grizzly men sitting with beer mugs and salty peanuts. She rotates among paper notes biting her luscious lips to get the money flying. The paper birds jostle for space in the make shift dance bar near Andheri station.

Her name is Leela, the most affluent bar dancer in amchi Mumbai. She exchanges glances and I shy away. She has the power to hold on but I fumble in my gaze.

I am Shouvik Sen, a film student belonging to a conventional Bengali family, firm in their choices and prejudices. Presently my energy is getting channelized to understand the world of motion in the fast paced Mumbai city and get a foot hold in the slippery river of employment. But more presently, I am surrounded by the Leela of another world, a world so powerful, that it is shunned by conventionalists and hailed by the disdained.

I have come here as a spectator, so have the other 35 males. But the purpose of their presence is solely to win, the acceptance, the attraction, the lady, the love. I have come to watch without any expectations and that is why the flickering gaze. At most instances, every boy tries to be a man. But today I am happy being a boy among men. Leela knows this. So she comes and urges me in her excitement although I am too bankrupt to throw precious notes that would fetch me scrumptious mutton samosas at the Prithvi theatre.

I came to observe the workings of a dance bar after their shut down with a bunch of tobacco chewing light men from Film City. This was my only chance of entry into an unguarded world of seduction. I wanted to interview her. But I did not need to. She opened up to me knowing what I wanted.

Leela has a husband who works in Canada. She does not need money she says. Then why does she do it? Let dozens of men stare at her body, the same body which she shares with her lover in Canada. She says it is the power of control, the feeling shared by so many leaders of the world from Bush to Obama. The power to satisfy the fastidious wants of men transcending class, barriers and age.

She rises for a while not to disappoint her other customers throwing notes at her and inquisitively glancing at me to enquire my power over her than them.

Leela has four flats at posh societies of Mumbai and three top class cars to her luxury. She is ageing and she knows that but she admits she never wants to grow old. Half of her fortune is spent to look younger and more vulnerable. Her family is oblivious to her profession. She reveals even if they found out now, the income cannot be compromised. It’s about growth and not about principles. Principles are foundations led by humans and meant to be broken, not followed. A set of principles laid by some cannot be enforced. The human mind makes the best decision according to situations, she says. Nothing can be default. If it is default it is simply not special.

But she follows a single strict principle, made by her for the welfare of her own life. She does not believe in prostitution. She believes her body is a holy temple to be watched not touched. We sell our skills of intelligence and talents, singing , dancing, acting or executing a surgery. But we are selling all the time. Selling to earn.

She floats around gyrating to the pulsating music. No one can touch her except for the loud rhythmic noise of distant sirens closing in. Its time to say adieu in a haste and run out of a narrow tunnel to mix with the thousands of other bar dancers waiting to get a foothold on the slippery world of employment in magnanimous Mumbai.