Food For Thought

I often reflect on the past and, in doing so, I remember that at about the age of 18, I asked myself a question, 'What am I doing with my life?' This question continues to haunt me. Until that moment, my life had been full of discos, parties and friends. But with that question, all these activities paled into insignificance. I was left with the shocking realization that I, and most of my ilk, had spent a major part of our lives showing off and bragging about things which really don't matter.

As I explored this question, I began to probe my conscience and put my thoughts into one reality, 'posing'.

To all those who do not comprehend this verb, 'posing' is the act of showing off or trying to impress. We all pose, perhaps we are unaware of it but we do, the young generation more than ever.

Take smoking, for instance. It is a perfect act of posing. Have you ever asked yourself, why am I smoking? The answer in my opinion is that we smoke in order to maintain our status, image or, to put it bluntly, ego.

And, what about the other trends that have become part and parcel of college life? I don't know about the others but, to me, college has become synonymous with chit-chat sessions, sipping tea in the canteen, parading the latest as far as fashion is concerned, and, moreover, have a 'good' time. Lectures, incidentally, are something one attends in order to maintain the required attendance. No wonder then that the most intelligent member of either sex is not necessarily the most popular one.

If you have the looks and a big bank balance, then flaunt it. That's the way it goes. The campus almost resembles the catwalk. Stilletoes, mini-skirts, tights, Nikes, Reeboks and flashy earrings, have become the order of the day. Instead of gracing the classrooms with one's presence, we hang around in the canteen exchanging the latest gossip as 'who's going around with whom', the latest discotheques and pubs in town, etc.

If you attend lectures, then you are labelled as 'Miss Goody Two Shoes'. If you don't wear designer outfits, you are labelled a 'drag'. And last but not the least, if you happen to be single and fancy free (I mean not having a boyfriend/girlfriend), then believe it or not, you are no longer a part of the groovy or elite crowd.

Likewise, drinking too has become part and parcel of a youngsters' life. A broad spectrum of factors may be pinpointed in order to explain why the young finds alcohol consumption so crucial and fashionable.

'Getting high' means different things to different drinkers; To the shy awkward looking guy, knocking down a few whiskey pegs gives him the guts to 'let the devil inside' perk up his courage to talk to the 'pretty woman'. To the aspiring young middle class, boozing at parties increasingly equates them with la CR'ME de la CR'ME. For young girls, a glass in hand makes them feel glamorous and all grown up. For several, it is an opportunity to get tipsy and giggle, and this attract attention.

Hence, we all pose, as I have said earlier, not only when it comes to smoking and drinking but also in what we wear and our general appearance.

Have you ever noticed while traveling in the bus in Mumbai that men and women often look at one another in contempt? They inspect, dissect and scrutinise each other from the shoes, working their way up the body to the face and hair as if carrying out a post-mortem. It angers me greatly that people put other people down because they feel they are more attractive than their counterpart. Men enjoy humiliating and browbeating others because it gives them a sense of power. In my view, the people of this day and age exist for power.

Have you ever wondered why we feel much better in expensive outfits? For instance, if you had the choice between two T-shirts, both identical, except that one has 'Yves St. Laurent' sewn on it, which one would you choose and why? I think most people, given the choice, would take the T-shirt with Yves St. Laurent on it?

Likewise, if you had to choose between two paintings, a Husain and a Van Gogh, then in all probability, you would opt for the latter. This brings us to another point worthy of consideration: 'the slavish mentality of the Indians'.

The craze for 'Foreign Ka Maal' has diminished over the years, but it is still there. We are willing to pay astronomical sums of money for a Revlon Lipstick, Benetton T-shirts or Cartier sunglasses. Also it is a known fact that the Benetton T-shirts available in India come from their factory in India and not from Italy.

Likewise, holidays abroad are the 'in thing' among the Glitterati. The Riviera is the ultimate destination. According to a socialite, 'Darling! The beaches there are fabulous', notwithstanding the fact that there exists lots of beautiful beaches in our very own country.

Are we ever going to outgrow this kind of behaviour? Is it something that will die with us? Will our search for maturity put an end to this? I for one am hopeful, but not very sure because even the so-called grown-ups indulge in it. Shouldn't we be using our energies for things more worthwhile? I shall end with a quote from someone unknown to me:

'All men's troubles arise from the fact that we do not know what we are and do not agree on what we want to be.'     


More by :  Attreyee Roy Chowdhury

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