Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Social Network

Alfred Borden: Everything's going to be alright, because I love you very much.
Sarah: Say it again.
Alfred Borden: I love you.
Sarah: Not today.
Alfred Borden: What do you mean?
Sarah: Well some days it's not true. I like being able to tell the difference, it makes the days it is true mean something.

Like most ordinarily built Indian women, the teacher stood at five feet and four inches. She was an attractive woman in her mid twenties. Given the circumstances, it's only understandable that she felt like a giant. She had come to class I A. And in that class stood I, in the sparkling new outfit dad had helped me get into, as a little lad with a rather large head. Fifteen years have passed since that day but I remember this one certain detail: The teacher, being bored - understandably, as she was surrounded by twenty-three clumsy midgets - gave us an assignment. She said, "Open your notebook and write down the name of your best friend and the reason why that person is your best friend."

This also happened to be my first day in Indian School Al Ghubra, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. It was also the first co-ed school I attended - my first school being Baldwin Boys', Bangalore. So, it is probably understandable that curiosity got the better of me and soon I was writing - "My best friend in Avantika because she sits next to me." I don't remember the girl's face; just her name.

I look back at that day in quiet amusement: how easy it had been to choose a best friend! As kids, most people who we get along could very well qualify as our best pals. And as kids, we have only two choices about people you meet: you love them or you hate them. There's no concept of secretly hating your friends, harbouring envy for your neighbour's superior penmanship or secretly admiring your enemies. I only wish the world had remained that simple.

That was a world where words and diamonds and gifts weren't the only ways of expressing love and affection. That was a world where a smile or even a knowing nod was a reassuring testament of love without warranting the three words, which have been debased by overuse; a world where friendship was a bond of blood and where there was understanding even in silence.

Life is, after all, not about immense networking and keeping in touch with as many people as possible. One would think it's about staying happy - with few people you will be happy with. Only then can words still carry meaning and promise. But we don't live this life: we live in a world where every acquaintance expects to be loved, to be greeted with hugs - which aren't really hugs - and kisses - which aren't really kisses. You can be held culpable for not uttering the right words when the 'moment' comes - the depravity of it all!

I can say one thing for sure - I will fall in love several times in this life, but there'll few I'll ever call my 'best friends'.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


I looked towards my wall proudly, having meticulously redecorated it. Apart from the mahogany shelf riveted to the wall, upon which rest a few relics of our inglorious past, and the luxurious bean bag which rests majestically in one corner of the room directly in front of my 50 inch television screen, the hall is fashionably empty. The French rug which I imported for a fortune covers the marble flooring which has become so passé. I love my small, comfortable dwelling.

It is strange that one should feel at home only after ostracizing oneself from one's own past, but that is how I feel today. I feel better after getting rid of those garish colours - those curtains and teak-wood sofas, and those Ravi Verma oil paintings! I used Berger's new 'Black' theme for interior decoration, and all things now blend into this elegant hue. I've even purchased a grey designer suit and satin black overcoat from the downtown Walmart to go with my silver Aston Martin.

I think I'll take the Metro now, to the Mall road to fetch some Budweiser for the party I'll be throwing later tonight. I know the party's going to be swell. We even have a dress code - Men in dark suits and women in evening gowns. This party will be the talk of the town - with all the Barbeque and the Italian spread. I have even unlocked the back door so that the men can smoke their cigars in the balcony outside, while enjoying the mighty steel and concrete horizon which modern India proudly boasts of.

It is the year 2130. I am proud of the fact that there are no longer divides and rifts between the people of the nation - we have all become global-citizens. There are no longer problems of language - we all speak English. There are no differences in food - no Rotis and no Dosas - we all enjoy a double-cheese Margherita and a big Mac washed down with some Sprite. We've renounced religion which has been the cause of so many conflicts in the past! No temple, no churches and no mosques - so no problem. All places of worship in this secular land have become museums - some of the finest in the world! And modern dermatologists have succeeded in making us all fair, so we can accentuate our new skins with the profoundest of black. No American is able to tell us apart from his countrymen now - to hell with racial discrimination!

I'm so glad we have taken a broader view of things since 2100, shedding our bourgeois demeanour for good! Our schools have begun teaching us about George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte as much as they do about C.V. Raman and Rani Lakshmi Bai. Our kids are taught ballet in school, just like some western institutions have started teaching Indian Classical. I'm just glad there are no divides in this world. Everyone has become the same person.