Just like you learn to Let Go of things over time, Stupidity is one amongst it

Travelling rations an opportunity to observe people from different cultural backgrounds, especially when it is to locations favouring tourism. Commercial vacationing spots are scattered with holidaymakers in no particular mix. Couples, backpackers, solo travellers, kids, friends, and a bunch of families touring in groups are habitual sights. When travel transpires in a cluster, a babble prevails as a side dish. It isn’t a conscious agenda but a defaulting sequence. Also, the purpose of tripping together can seem half-baked if not for that inconsequential yapping. A surge of need that’s inadvertent, haphazard and perpetual. A group of tourists traversing another gives the passer-by a chance to survey the other’s outward social facts. From the language in which their fragments of snippets take place to the garbs they don. From their food, if the occasion permits, to their eating habits. It is a sneak-peek into their world. A glimpse into their way of life.

Those residing in lands that I haven’t visited or lived in, pique me when it comes to their outlooks and mannerisms. The way their daily lifestyles are, to the approach they engage while tackling everyday errands. The food they consume, to the blend of ingredients that are infused into making them. The customs and rituals that are their part and parcel, to the reason(s) for observing them. I often wonder if one’s lifestyle could have been influenced beyond their ethnic norms had they resided in a town that isn’t their native land. Even if, a few hundred kilometres apart. That their life could have been differently lived, if only they had resided a state or a zone away. Because one of the factors India preens about often is its oneness, despite the diversity it houses. And on this account, when people travel in clusters to tourist-bound locations, unalike social backgrounds mingle. They interlude. In whichever form, despite lacing in the air. To whatever extent,IMG_20170617_124831_copy despite one’s unawareness or lack of wisdom of it. For however long, notwithstanding the briefness in time. If one were to give it another perspective, these are moments when frames, that until then could have seemed like reeled scenes in a cinema, surface. Shots that until then we probably had only seen filmed behind a lens, on a screen.

From moments of overhearing that chatty entourage of tourists, a slice of their belief system, a peek into their parenting styles, and an educated guess of their thought-processes forming the basis of everyday living come alive. Irrespective of being on the move. Irrespective of passing each other during a brief walk to a tourist spot. Regardless of the fact that the entire experience may not outlast ten seconds.

Except, this is not the case today. The prattling doesn’t fancy one’s attention but induces a ruckus. Sometimes, to the levels of instituting noise pollution and brazen stupidity. After a while, you only wish to leave (them alone) because they do not or cannot snap out of their cacophonic bubble. Such that it inconveniences the next person. Worse, at a tourist location.

Travelling with family, I have discovered over time, requires tuning to a different mindset. Not only from a planning standpoint but also from one’s mood board. A subject that’s cast aside to be explored another time. A couple of weeks ago, I visited Kanyakumari in the thick of the tourist season. Because it was a trip with the family, our itinerary included the must-cover locations. In other words, all tourist-laden spots – the sunrise point, a dip at the confluence of the three seas, a visit to the rock memorial and the impending statue in its neighbourhood.

The hustling of tourist practitioners in the town was a cornucopia pulled straight out of a kaleidoscopic sequence. Every turn yielded a different pattern, some of which pleased the senses. While others, not so.

Bubbles of crowds broke out at intervals speaking in discrete tongues. Summoning out loud their peers, blocking spots for members who were on the way to sit, random laughter, loud chatters, enthusing debates, and discussions about nothing, in particular, rented the air at once. The crowd seemed equally engaged while trying their hands in a variety of road fare. Hawkers lined the sea stretch selling ornaments assembled from shells, pearls and stones gleaned off the beach shore. Vendors calling out for peanuts, sundal, corn on the cob, tea and coffee hired a perimeter of the morning atmosphere. Cooling glasses, watches, posters of varying shapes and sizes amidst other trinkets to attract toddlers lined one side of the main market street, while street shops displaying assorted shell wares encasing mirrors, wall clocks, hangings amongst other decorative merchandise adorned the other. Smalltime bakeries, snack outlets, roadside eateries, and milk and tea parlours broke the monotony of the shopping aura at constant intervals. As an afterthought, tender coconut stalls sprinkled the thoroughfare attracting a fair share of fans. More so, for the ensuing malai after breaking open the coconut.

Trippers flailed about their arms and legs sheltering under the act of swimming in the crude, salty, crowded and unrestrainedly wavy sea. Saltwater flicked in the eyes of co-tourists as a result of their jerky and uneven movements even when they were told off not once, but twice. A group of girls clasped onto each other’s palms to form a circle in the sea, to confront the waves’ mightiness. In their ensuing unity, co-dippers were pushed deeper into the sea because they didn’t find ‘enough space’ to expand their ring. A bystander was nudged from a viewpoint, not with the touch of a hand or a word of request, but by squeezing a bunch of kids into the space for a photograph. The famed Thiruvalluvar statue that stood eminently in the middle of the sea was pointed to and referred to as Swami Vivekananda. The unperturbed Bay of Bengal was streamed live on a video chat, where the receiver was told that “this is the point where the three oceans converge“. Photobombers (in)conveniently stepped into frames yet had the chagrin to appeal to people to walk out of theirs minutes later.

The hustling of tourist practitioners in the town was a cornucopia pulled straight out of a kaleidoscopic sequence. Every turn yielded a different pattern, some of which pleased the senses. While others, not so.

When lack of judgment prevails, indifference surfaces. When contempt fails to serve as an emotion strong enough, questions about humanity loom.

What do I know? For I am still silently discerning why I feel uneasy dealing with people.

 

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It’s about Choices: Like, a ‘No’ could be a Complete Sentence

I come from a society where we need no reasons to revere our lifestyles against the cushion of culture. It’s how this side of the world has always panned; at least since I became self-aware. Moral fibres are ordained as a part of our nurturing in such a way that we find our minds and bodies ingrained in them. As we grow up, we discern that in a span of a skip generation, the scientific backing is subtracted from most of such fibres. And often, omitted. There exists no logical interpretation from our elders for why certain things are the way they are. We see them suiting up into a defence mechanism of being all elderly with a feeble this-is-how-it-is-so-do-not-argue-with-me.

Are we meant to buy our way into this?

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Courtesy: Students’ Biennale, Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016

Hypocrisy seeps its way into our systems – living or structural – through loops and holes that we as a race, have left gaping. While we grow up, along with the absence of rational reasoning, we also discover the power of questioning and use it despite being given sketchy responses in return. As a consequence, boundaries are getting erased to the point that any Tom, Dick and Harry is privy to hold an individualistic thought-process. A question is countered with another. To which there is no one solution. There is an indefinite foundation to differentiate the rights from the wrongs. It’s all relative. Like, a sexual tension brewing between two friends, being friends with benefits, and aesthetic attractions despite being legally committed for life are permissible under-the-counter.

Are they, though?

So much for our cushioning cultures, kerchiefed values and the ingrained pit of moral fibre.

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Artist: Praneet Soi

Friendship comes in limitless packages. It’s all right if one is living with a friend in an elsewhere city for studies. It’s okay if one is hanging out with a friend at midnight for an ice-cream. It’s okay if two friends are talking into the wee hours of the morning about savoury somethings and sweet nothings. It’s all right if live-in friends from the opposite sex sleep on the same bed. It’s okay if a friend develops a physical attraction towards the other, and gets asked for a sexual favour in return. The lust is after all, mutual.

Albeit, what coerces someone to ask for a sexual favour in a friendship? I want to believe it is the comfort zone that gets established between the two. I want to believe it is human, and therefore a natural inclination. I want to believe that sex is an essential need like air, food and shelter. And because it is an ask, I want to believe that it is okay if the response to it is positive or otherwise.

However, what coaxes someone to ask for a sexualised favour with a single-faced probability of not turning it down? Why must it be an invite in the first instance when there must be no scope to leave anything to chance? Of turning it down?

It will be five years this October since I am married to Pachai. Apart from a shared social circle, we see friends outside. Setting aside the legal quotient of our enduring partnership and the societal belief of a marriage’s sanctity, I am sometimes apprehensive of the air I leave on my friends. As an individual. Especially on those with whom I get newly acquainted. For sooner than later, there gets introduced a tension in the air that paves the way to leaving sedimented footprints in the trail of our murky sentience.

How do I deal with such instances? By siding with a culture that’s imbibed into me by default at birth, when I could have been born anywhere in any family? Or by internalising a moral belief that ideally could no longer be held good in the light of our practically altered lifestyles?

The exhaust fan whirs unnoticed, in a world of its own
Courtesy: Students’ Biennale, Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016

Within these four-odd years with Pachai, I have been asked for sexual favours. Twice. The first time it was from a friend whom I got along with for our crazy vibes. The second time it came from a friend with whom I had a shared interest in fine arts. Their liberal approach, however different and despite them knowing I have a partner, induces me to retrospect about the kind of person I am. Of the impression that I leave behind. For it spurs self-doubts about my character and behaviour. Is it a mistake that I do not propagate about Pachai? Am I creating a general confusion by not publicising our tidbits on social media? Am I leaving a sign for trespassing by not reinforcing his significance?

They say marriage is a holy communion of two individuals. Ironically, it is challenging to come across an epic or a commandment that explains why is it essential to be unfaithful once married. There are bare resources that tell you why choosing another sexual partner when you’re legally bonded is deceitful. Maybe, it has a grounded reasoning to it. Choices. Of the ones that we make and take as an individual. Of a choice to stick with someone irrespective of the circumstances. To walk by their side regardless of the falls, the downs, the lows, the thins and thicks. Of the one to grow old together and stay that way until time permits.

Source: The Internet

I do not know what it is like to continue a friendship after being asked for intimacy. I would not have an answer if someone were to ask me why did I not take the incident as one in passing and continue with my friendships. Because I am not in touch with either of the two after I turned down their asks.

What gives people the idea to ask for sexual favours in a friendship that must end in a defaulting ‘yes’? Why does a ‘no’ injure their ego?