Brown Paper Bag

>> December 9, 2010

When I called up S, an old friend from school who has been in touch over the years, and told him about the exciting new job I had been offered at a law firm in a wonderful city  with an enviable pay package, he was eager to know when I would start. When he realised that I didn't intend to start at all, he was progressively shocked, surprised, and then, resigned. He did, however, try to persuade me with an oft-heard refrain that I can help "poor people"- as he called them, by donating half my salary to charities, and that I do not need to get my hands dirty for what I hoped to do.
I tried to explain to him, but he didn't understand that while I did want to help the "poor people", I wanted to be right there when it happens. I want to live amongst them, and experience their poverty. I want to sink my feet in the freshly turned field in a  village snuggled somewhere deep in the country and speak to a poor person who comes along.
He didn't understand, and hung up the phone. 
In retrospect, I don't understand it myself. In my head, I think, the "poor people" are romanticized.

Read this.



To become a writer is a glorious dream. 
To be able to have your words - your very thoughts as they found voice in your mind- immortalised forever and ever, for generations to read and mull over; to influence thought and possibly action in an infinite number of ways; and most importantly, to leave that seemingly ordinary bit of reflection that emerged from your mind as testimony to your life, and the time and place that you occupied in this world.
To become a writer, it seems to me to be, is a blindingly bright but frightening dream.



I think I'm the one they make trashy television for. I'm the target audience they produce show after show for, with various distorted versions of reality featuring the Indian youth (most often, the spoiled  idiot youth from the cowbelt). I'm the girl who'll end up watching season after season and be incredibly bored, only to hope for a more entertaining episode the next day. I'm  the president of that demographic.

It's not like I follow these shows. I just happen to follow them, if you know what I mean. Among my favourite activities in the world is laughing at people, mostly when under the influence. Now, given that I live in a godforsaken little spot in the world with all of 400 people, there are only so many times you can laugh at the same people. The easiest way out, then, is to laugh at the many millions who wish to grace the world of glamour, glitz and stardom and have identified Indian reality television as the messiah that will lead them towards the ultimate goal. Now, take note that I'm not referring to the Indian Idol sorts, because, come on, that's hardly reality. Reality television is dirty, bitchy, nasty and of course, tasteless.  It also occupies prime time slots in premium Indian channels today. Exactly the sort of reality that makes my own mundane reality seem like a class on environmental law.

Take Splitsvilla, for instance. I realised, only yesterday, that Splitsvilla has reached its THIRD season. Sigh. Can you believe that? Now they have a new format. They even have a new ugly host and ugly Nikhil Chinappa is still around. He's actually not all that ugly, in all fairness, but he is still reasonably ugly. Of course, the show that takes the cake with no competition whatsoever on the ugly scale is that extremely hilarious show called Dare to Date. The show format basically revolves around setting two people (both, necessarily ugly)  who wouldn't be found next to each other, even in death, on a blind date. Recent episodes included a girl who had her hair coloured blonde and liked to pretend to be an American with a punjabi accent. The host of the show had decided that it would be hilarious to set her up on a date with an ABCD who had come to India to marry the bhartatiya naari his sub-conscious desperately yearned for. I was watching the show when my mother came in, and the singular valid enquiry she had to make was, "Don't these stupid kids have parents at home?".

The overwhelmingly mind numbing stupidity of these shows is hardly moot. The question which interests me, however, is why they continue to be aired on television. And a question I need to especially consider, since I find myself watching them, however irregularly, despite my own admission of their stupidity. I can safely assume that television producers would never sponsor a show they didn't think had some chance of success, and proving them right, these shows crop up again, and yet again, with several reruns between seasons.

Perhaps, I think, I watch these shows to feel good about myself. When I watch young boys and girls my age making fools of themselves on national T.V., I must feel reassured about my own notions of sense and sensibilities.When I see girls scantily dressed having cat fights over pimple faced boys parading as models,I  probably feel safe and secure in my own healthily plump figure. Maybe, when Indian audiences see their so-called values, traditions, and culture being chewed and spat out at the hands of producers and actors dizzied by the thought of fame, fortune and camera-time, they feel safe about their middle class pursuits sitting in their two bedroom apartments with attached loos. It is a terrible world we must live in, then, if we need reality television to overcome our mundane insecurities.

Man cannot live by bread alone. He must have some reality TV.

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