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Tuesday, April 21, 2009 

Slaying Them Softly

Everywhere, it stares out at you.

Earlier, I reacted in different ways. For the longest while, I would avoid any contact in that sphere, and if chance did throw me in harm's way, I would fidget and keep away from eye contact. If forced to make conversation, I would be as brief and polite as possible. 

There was a brief spell of devil may care rudeness, when I decided to make others pay for my awkwardness by being a prig, by pushing them into zones of discomfort.

I am clean and reasonably groomed. My clothes are ironed, even if I mix and match according to what the dhobi has deigned to deliver lately rather than appropriate schemes of colour or pattern. My shoes are mostly shined, unless you have caught me at the end of an impromptu long walk. Or if I'm planning on ending the meeting with one, in which case I'll wear walking shoes a bit worse for the wear. I can speak a decent line or two in English without obvious mistakes. I even watch a movie or two in English now and then, and can discuss with some substance books and music.

But I am never comfortable with representatives of what I call the Manicured Life. The one that jumps at you out of every serial, ad, magazine. Pastel shades, immaculate houses, perfectly white teeth, nattily casual men with superbly coiffed women. The men are not necessarily handsome, merely shiny and rich. The women who are not beautiful make do with being sexy. If they were merely confined to the ads, one could glance away. But when I meet them in real life, all the minor details start kicking in. 

For example, the casual elegance with which they handle the lower classes : drivers, waiters, and such. None of my easy familiarity that so often embarasses. Nor the rigid hauteur which is caricatured in movies. Just that masterful dash of geniality that garnishes the evident command.

I'm now older, if not wiser, and mostly, I do not have issues with The Manicured Life. My own polishing has been more in the nature of a grind, and that leaves its mark. I know that remnants of my awkwardness will always ensure, for example, that I fidget. Past practice will change the usually modulated tone into a harsh desi twang when I speak. I will always end up wearing the shirt just a little bit crumpled, the tie a tad askew. 

Ah well.They live as they should, and I live as I can, and who's to say which of us is living as we want, says I. 

I recently read a lady who had been Photoshopped by a popular woman's mag into a fairer, slimmer avatar, while profiling her as a "woman of substance" (which she most emphatically is, I might add). She wrote about how the media is foisting the illusion of a generic plastic beauty across a diversity of cultures and what it does to a generation of youngsters trying to conform to it. I nodded, reminded of my own angst at not fitting into the shiny lives of people that I thought were "cool". And then, in the course of a restless wandering of a sleepless night, I chanced upon an article in the Guardian, and clicked the youtube link simultaneously. The piece is laced with enjoyable invective against Simon Cowell ("buffed to the sheen of an ornamental pebble") and Amanda Holden ("a woman most notable for playing a psychotic hairdresser" and a "flat-packed, hair-ironed, over-plucked monstrous fool" : ) ). 

But it was the video that got me. You've sung "Cry Me A River", and "Killing Me Softly", friend. And that is enough to make most of us who go for the mush keel over. But when you hit the high notes so effortlessly in a song that was written for a posterchild of misfortune in one of the strongest emotional dramas ever, I stood up and cheered. 

Perhaps some of your miracle was manufactured. Perhaps they'll lift you and may eventually trash you. They'll make you over or keep you as an icon of their tolerance. The future is unknown, Susan Boyle : but today, from a member of the League for Extras and Ordinary Gentlemen, a salute.

:) imagine my plight. i deal with them all the time.

recently interviewed a lady of substance (supposedly) who insisted i photoshop her pics. when i refused saying we dont do it as a policy, she insisted that i give her the pics and let her do it!!!

the bloody cheek of it!

TMM:- "Tum gulsitaan se aaye, zikr-e-khizaan hi laaye
humne qafas mein dekhi, fasl-e-bahaar barson"

: )

ahh...i understand the feeling so perfectly...though i have yet too grow older and wiser and so,still have some issues with what you so aptly call The Manicured Life (and a pedicure too,might i add)...

this was a post long overdue,and here is adding my own salute to Susan Boyle,and the lots of unknown others of her substance

Janus : You look before and after ? : )
#1

"Boli muskaati maiyya, Lallan ko bataaya
Kaali andhiyaari aadhi, raat mein tuu aaya
Laadla kanhaiya mera, kaali kamli waala
Isiliye kaala"

#2 Some are born to endless night.

Hehhhhhhh. What strands memory can unite.

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