Friday, September 25, 2009

Stereotyping the Contemporary Intellectual - 3

Continued from Part 2 here

  • Belonging to Vasudaiva Kutumbakam 1 - A direct implication of the example in the Mary/Peter category – Soru. I am not sure how prevalent this habit is, but a lot (a lot, yes, but not all) of these “intellectuals” religiously eat food from everywhere in the world – Ethiopian, Mexican, Chinese, Spanish, etc. I have nothing against any of these cuisines and it is nice to have a wide range of options, but these things irk me –

    1. I, who unabashedly, wholly does NOT belong to this group, who is quite content with half-decent Indian food (or absolutely any food which is prepared in a safe [read purely vegetarian, far away from eggs, meat, fish or poultry] location), find myself ridiculously left-out and outvoted when in the company of such folks (on the rare occasions it happens) and
    2. Remember again that a lot of these folks (at least most of the ones I’ve observed) are MCSI-Brahmins? Which means they’ve been vegetarians for most part of their life. Whether these "intellectuals" are (newly-turned) atheists (agnostics, integral humanitarians, etcetera) who continue to be vegetarian (even though they discard god, a few “intellectuals” might continue to stick to vegetarianism and being “intellectuals”, they need to have a strong feeling towards anything => if vegetarian, they believe in it strongly) or (minority) the still-believing-in-Brahminism/religion junta, eating in restaurants overflowing with non-vegetarian food simply reeks of hypocrisy. How, oh how on earth they can bear to see dead animal pieces next to the food they consume, I cannot understand (I am, in this sense, an "antillectual", if you might).
    3. Among the minority that are still-practising-(pseudo)-Brahmins, but anyhow eat with relish in every such (God-forsaken) international restaurant, and then talk (often in a dreamy-eyed manner and/or ethereal tones which is supposed to convey that they are in a Kadavul-induced-trance or state of divine bliss) about what Maha Periyava says about Brahmins or throw at you the 6th stanza of the Soundarya Lahari, asking you to marvel at its beauty or wax eloquence at Dikshitar's krithi and it's profound philosophical/religious inspiration - to me, it simply doesn't fit. I am probably dumb, athi-moorkaha or whatever, for linking two irrelevant issues, but this whole package doesn't come across as genuine/true.

    Note here that I am not an Indian fundamentalist promoting Indian food and advocating that Indians eat only Indian food. I love my filter coffee and feast on Paneer, knowing fully well that neither is indigenous to India. But the point here is eating something just because it is another cuisine, and doing so often enough, just to prove that you are a global citizen. It is almost like people who start smoking because they feel cool doing it. And whether the food is nice or not, trying to enjoy it so that you feel good at having eaten international cuisine.
    Which now leads me to another sub-classication of these international-cuisine-folks -
    • Never cook at home.
    • Eat that Bruschetta at the Italian/Spanish restaurant, come back home and start making it regularly (if married, often with the spouse) and then start a food blog. Include chweet lines like "The husband made some panini bruschetta sprinkled with toasted almonds today. Yay! Love you, dear!" and other corny equivalents. Seriously.
      And no, this is not a whine from a singleton who is calling the grapes sour because he doesn't have a wife to dote foodily on.

Intriguing how most of the "intellectual" couples either love cooking together, often multi-cuisine delicacies or not cooking any cuisine at all (hey, didn't you know how healthy the food is at Chipotle's, Subway, Taco Bell, etc.?).

  • Philosophical Thanni - Ha, this is one elite group, I tell you. Again, I wouldn't want to hazard a generalization like majority of the "intellectuals" or something (though I won't be surprised if such a generalization is indeed valid), but this much I can be sure - majority in this sub-group is obviously guys (again, it might be my ignorance too, but I can say only as far as I've seen). So then, these "dudes" obviously drink. Fine. No big deal. But the justifications and explanations for their drinking - nothing short of poetry. "Enakku thanni adikka pudichirukku, I derive pleasure from it, though I know it's bad" - apdinu sollittu poinde irundha naan edhukku indha maadhiri oru bullet'a ezhudha poren? Starting with social drinking (which, IMHO, deserves a separate punishment in the Indian Penal Code, by itself), they go on to put all kinds of weird fundae into the heads of ordinary, un"intellectual" folks like me, so much so that after a point of time, we (the un"intellectuals") feel ashamed and philosophically backward for being non-drinkers (or teetotalers, to be more general). Really, I mean it. I've personally gone through this once, the dude in question being the same guy who spoke those priceless words in the Mary/Peter category.
  • Belonging to Vasudaiva Kutumbakam 2 - Applies to all types of "intellectuals" - whether atheistic, agnostic, totally-believe-in-Brahminism, currently-believing-in-Brahminism, etc. When it's time for Dum Dum Dum, anybody and everybody will do. Though the still-Brahmin kinds will initially stick to believing in same-caste marriage, they will, in due course of time, come around to trashing it, having moved on to "higher" things and realizing the utter insignificance and childishness in such beliefs.
    A few memorable quotes these "intellectuals" use to justify their inter-caste marriage (these people specifically belong to the born-Brahmin-believed-in-Brahminism-for-almost-all-their-life-and-even-now-selectively-believe-in-Brahminism-but-are-going-to-marry-inter-caste category) -
    a) "
    i believe its upbringing thats imp and providing the right atmosphere, attitude and opportunities that will promote preserve the culture
    i believe i can do that.
    i knew that h** family and (?)he have the right mindset and background..wrt education/appreciation of arts and culture..apart from that there will be differences.."
    b) "
    but i realised that brahmin-a eruntha mattum pothaathu... its the personal behaviour which makes u what u are.."
    Quiz: Can you identify the gender of the two characters above? [MP, MM, PM, PP]

    In future, I see this attribute being upgraded to a version whose traits will include looking down on same-caste couples; upon seeing a person wearing the Veebuthi or Bottu, staring at the mark for an unnecessarily-long time, intentionally starting a related topic and concluding that wearing such marks is anti-philosophical, anti-spiritual, etc., ending up making you feel like Manohar Parrikar when he lost the confidence vote.

And I shall stop right there. I wanted to include these two categories as well -

  • Do Jalsa and show Jilpa via the blogs they write. ;-) [Remember, the "intellectual" isn't necessarily always an Indian in USA]
  • Return from USA and direct movies like Hyderabad Blues.

But since I am sure there is a massive group out there that (whether "intellectual" or not) overwhelmingly supports such "intellectuals" and will be after my blood just because I mention them in this list without understanding that my calling them "intellectuals" is more light-hearted satire than derogatory criticism/mockery, I shall digress.

In my observation, I have tried to remain as objective as possible (by me ;), without criticizing or frowning upon the "intellectual" characteristics I observed, something I usually do. I admit there might've been one or two instances where my exasperation got the better of me, but I suppose that is understandable, because of the weight of that issue. I must also admit that I fall under one or more of the categories above, so if you feel I'm pulling your leg, understand that I'm pulling mine too (ok, my knee or foot...leg only for thoroughbred "intellectuals" :D).

Stereotyping the Contemporary Intellectual - 2

Continued from Part 1 here

  • Leaning to the Left: This, I think, is somewhat of a minority, but it seems to be growing. Ironically, such notions tend to develop in the US of A. :D
  • The "OMG, that's 150 Calories! That means 10 more minutes on the treadmill"-kind: Fitness is important, no doubt. Daily exercise is important, definitely. But for them, this borders on obsession. Irrespective of whether they are thin or fat (btw, did I tell you, most "intellectuals" are either incredibly lean or pucca figures [purely geometric usage of the word, not to be confused with the generic usage and start wondering about my orientation just because this usage is being applied to guys also, I’m perfectly straight, thanks], whether they are guys or girls?). It especially gets scary when you inadvertently overhear or become part of the said-group for some occasional dinner or something. One session of ordinary soru, and you end up with a feeling that your eating habits apparently hover around the Bakasura and Ghadothkacha mark.
    PS: Guy “intellectuals” can be excused for this one, as it predominantly applies to girl “intellectuals”. Guys, after all, are a trifle less appearance-conscious than girls, so when they see good food, even “intellectual” guys let go. But they would, of course, compensate in the gym, kindly note.
  • They are classified not as Male/Female but as Mary/Peter - Ok, before you misunderstand, they are not the kinds that will put Peter for the sake of vetti-scene. They have a strong grasp over the language (mainly English) and more specifically, they suffer from a disease where they simply cannot communicate simple emotions in simple words.

Sample this –
Since my stream of consciousness veered into food, here is one more update. To all, never go to a Spanish restaurant and order a Paella (Paeya) if you don't know what it is."
Meaning - Since I spoke about food, let me advise you not to go to a Spanish restaurant and order........
(Eh, Payya’va? Karthi Sivakumar padam per maadhiri irukku, idha poi Spain’la saapduvaala?)

Another example -
Suck it up RK, we finally went to Toro and had "Maiz Asado Con Alioli Y Queso Cotija la especialidad de la casa," alright will cut the crap, corn in butter and cheese was freaking awesome."
Meaning - Saavu da RK, we went to Toro and ate a dish (made of corn in butter and cheese) which was semma tasty.
PS: I'm assuming this is the meaning, as, possibly, the speaker and RK were supposed to go to the said restaurant together, but somehow, the speaker beat RK to it; or some similar equivalent situation.

I confess to having used "freaking awesome" once or twice in my life, but the rest of the stuff, I generally have to read once or twice to understand the words fully, sometimes even Google their meaning/usage. And please, I'm not this English-ignorant-for-the-sake-of-GRE-mug-Baron's or Rapidex-Learn-English-in-20-days aasaaami also. Simply by looking at my blog, my English marks in CBSE school [oh, how naive can you get, Kaushik?] and the fact that I was one of my English teacher's fav students (mainly for academic reasons, but the fact that I also admired Madhubala, the original Bollywood beauty, also helped) in high school (albeit Matric). Plus also the fact that in my blog, almost 99% of my writings are grammatically correct, which is no mean feat, considering I've been blogging for almost 2 years now (albeit, with no significant blog-following :D). Basically, what I want to say is - I know some English, sariya? But I don't know too much English, nowhere near even a quasi-pulavan, like what some of my lesser-inclined-to-English friends complain, about being unable to comprehend my blogs. From what I know and hear from them, the subject content of my blog becomes clearer on 2nd or 3rd reading (though I doubt if there's anyone with that much patience :P), sometimes conveying a different message each time. I'm also sure my writings convey a different meaning to people who know me (rather, are acquainted with me for a period of time) and another one to first-time readers or people who aren't acquainted much with me. But the important thing here is that none of this is due to the language, this is (only, if I may add...) due to the content and how I've presented it, as also the topic itself. My blogs would hardly have 2-3 GRE words.
But these Mary's and Peter's, their vocabulary is predominantly made up of such GRE words, often reaching above the GRE level also. :D And let me also add, I am sure I will definitely fall into one (or more) of the above categories of "intellectuals", but I surely surely don't belong to this one.

  • Kannaadi/Ara-nikkar, etc. – Ok, this is surely not applicable to all “intellectuals” (though it might, I am not sure) and this will highly coincide with the chilrai-pisth-cases whose sole aim in life is to earn money and show the world that, in different forms. Karuppu Kannadi (‘Shades’, they are called) enge ponaalum pottukkanum. Idhula enna koduma’na, Madras’la (referring to MCSI’s mainly from Chennai and also hot places from South India), US’la irukkardhoda 10-madangu jaasthi veyyil, for most of the year, aana US’ukku vandhu dhan “shades”. Note specifically that these people generally don't flaunt wealth back home in India, like the "other" group, which indulges in extra-show on that once-in-two-years India trip.
    Also, going out with friends to the movie or any casual hang-out will invariably have to be in mukka-pant or ara-nikkar (provided the weather is conducive). Really. And this applies to both Mary and Peter. Period.
Update 1:

  • "Naan kadaisiya paatha English padam 'Sunset Boulevard'" & VS Naipaul kinds - This is a sure-fire way. Confirmed'unga. They swear by Quentin Tarantino. Quentin Tarantino is God. Problem is, only he is god (IMHO, he is also God, one among the trinity, but there are others, and there are Indians). Vishal Bhardwaj is just a cheap imitation. Indian movies suck. Period. Mani Ratnam was a good director. Indian cinema died after Nayagan. Variations include moving on to other international-language movies - French, Polish, Italian, etc. and revisiting all English classics from the '40s and '50s.
    As far as readership is concerned, abstract philosophy is the in-thing. Richard Dawkins is widely-read.
  • The "NeenGa rOmbo nallavanga" types - Oh yes, another easy one. Since they are fitness conscious and are invariably good runners, they usually associate themselves with some charity fund like Asha and run to raise money. Then forward emails asking us to contribute. Incidentally, this led me to post this. :D
  • Forward-phobia - They are utmost forward-thinkers, but hate to forward and hate forwards. The rare forward that they do send will be screaming with "intellectualism". Easily you will be able to recognize it. And that is to show to us that - "Hey dho paaru, naan summa summa indha maadhiri sirippu mootradhukkum, podhu ariva valakkarthukkum forwards'laam anuppara type illa. Naan anupcha adhu unique'a irukkum (just like me)." You must assume you hear the sender say this when you get that once-in-a-blue-moon "intellectual" forward from someone. And foremost among the rare gems they send will include one from the previous category. If not for them, for their "intellectual" friend (obviously!).
Go to Part 3

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stereotyping the Contemporary Intellectual - 1

For far too long, we have had stereotypes based only on caste, religion and gender. Though there are substantial reasons (at least) for some of those, we have found more reason to ridicule (rather unfairly) based on the stereotypes, without bothering to verify their accuracy (either way). One exception, though, is the stereotype of pseudo-secularists, which can be completely and wholly justified. So much so that sometimes, the stereotype of pseudo-secularists threatened to be their definitive characteristic, when along came someone to prevent that. Anyhow...

This post is definitely NOT meant to ridicule or offend the "intellectual" of today. Probably a satire, well...more a humorous observation by yours truly of some aspects which have been strikingly "intellectuals", to me (of course). So whoever reads this, please take it with a pinch of salt (as with most of my other posts :D) and a generous dose of light-heartedness.

Since I am a middle-class South-Indian (MCSI), my observations predominantly pertain to middle-class South-Indian "intellectuals".However, a lot of these characteristics might as well be applicable to "intellectuals" from North India too.

Note: Henceforth, I will be referring to contemporary intellectuals as "intellectuals". ;-)
All set? Then let's go . . .

  • No longer middle class - The first thing that should strike you about them is that they are no longer middle class. Having been brought up in an essentially savings-based environment, where we used to think about each and every item before buying, that thought process no longer exists. Yes of course, they do opt for their Honda Civics and Mazda 3's compared to more expensive versions, but their concept of savings gets reduced to big expenses alone (unintentional irony). $1.99 milk ceases to hold relevance once they graduate and get a decent-paying job. Dollars, after all, start speaking, not Rupees. When you go for the $2.99 milk, you are paying just 1 dollar more, but that's a difference of 2 dollars effectively (saving one + losing one). What they lose sight of is the fact that saving the cents might not save much, but losing the savings will count.
  • Rejection of Religion: This, I have especially noticed in MCSI Brahmins. Well, probably educated Indians are moving towards atheism en masse, but nowhere can you observe this trait more prominently than in MCSI Brahmins in the USA. Accepted that there is more exposure to free thinking today, and more of us see more of what the world has and is made of, coming out of our closet. But that should encourage us to think inward, the more outward we go. Alas, our enlightenment is just outward. "Integral humanism" and "agnosticism" are other supplementary adjectives to describe their current mental set-up.
  • Photography Pultography: Yes, a must-have characteristic. Either they own an SLR camera or they talk about shooting brilliant pictures with varying angles of light, etc. Whether they really do take good pictures is a discussion best left for another time.
  • Lingo: I think a separate Urban Dictionary can be created for the words used by Intellectuals. Prominent among these words are - Dude, Junta, F***, No kiddin, Preeshiyet it, Honey, More F***, etc.
  • Kambeni: They generally surround themselves with studs from top schools. Agreed that most of the "intellectuals" are, themselves, from top schools, but in case they don't happen to be from one, they immediately catch hold of some who are and jab all mostly hi-funda stuff which generally falls under any one of the categories mentioned here.
Go to Part 2

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A True Match

Disclaimer: I totally am interested in an atmosphere of peace between India and China and seriously dont want war. So please read the post below knowing this, before you start accusing me of being narrow-minded and fight-mongering.

Nuclear wars are potta-thanam. I mean, seriously! One country will bomb somewhere in the other country'aam. Thousands (millions) will die. Call of war. The worst thing is that the place which was bombed would mostly be inhabited by people who have nothing to do with the war apart from being citizens of that country. What kind of war is this?
I dont know what/when the third world war is going to be, however, seeing how things have been heating up between India and China, nobody would exclaim shock if something like that happens. And given Admiral Suresh Mehta's fair assessment of our military capability vis-a-vis China's, I dont think India would stand a realistic chance in a proper current-day war.
Which is why I have an alternative suggestion which is more evenly matched. What is the first thing that strikes your mind when you say evenly matched wrt India & China? Why, the population, of course! So here's what we should do - amass everyone you can on the border. It should be a proper Kurukshetra-range war - fight till death. Anybody and everybody should be at the border. The fighting methods should be hand-to-hand, swords, knives, guns and canons. That's it. No more modernity allowed. No air force. And humans should be used as canons. I strongly think we'd have a good chance then. Yes, China is still ahead population-wise, but apparently, we have more productive work-force. Besides, I should think we have more obese people than the Chinese. So use all these obese people as canons (only people, as I said earlier, no canon balls). Sumo wrestlers and all Japanese only, no? :D But yes, given their expertise in martial arts, maybe they retain the advantage again. But then, someone said Indians can mokka-pottufy better than Chinese. Ha! Beat that! Since English is the only language we can easily communicate within ourselves, we use English with them too. Then, bring in Russell Peters on the Indian side to kalaaichufy them.

I think we'll just about win.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Otta(i) Dhaanam

I've tried to understand this funda, but somehow have never been able to figure it out. Seriously, what's this about charity runs/walks? I am happy to be seeing some form of charity/service to society/the underprivileged, etc. going on but I would be happier to see it with some sane reason, or at least, to be able to understand and appreciate the functioning of the system.
Q. Running - Why do people run?
A. I started off by asking myself this question. Possible answers are that the person is a fitness freak who wants to keep himself/herself in good shape. Else, the person is an athlete who runs for a living. Then, possibly, people run for fun...just that running gives them a sense of liberation. Ok, this last set is probably quite less compared to the other two but let's just say they also contribute to running.
Seri appo, when did this running thing get connected to charity? I figure out people somehow started gathering in groups for a charitable cause, to discuss about it or something, then some wise soul says "let's start running" and his/her company agrees to sponsor the group "run" because it gives them some kind of publicity (which, again, results in an indirect benefit for the company anyway :P). So this part is ok - corporates sponsoring runs primarily because they get some good coverage.
Somewhere, some bloke introduced this brilliant idea of individually contributing to someone's run. I also have squeezed my brain and eked out a possible reason - individuals contributing money to someone else's run acts as a motivation for the runner to run more and bring more money (for the charitable cause, obviously). But here's the thing - isn't this a kind of recursive loop which continues because of the last recursion? Nobody knows why the recursion started in the first place (for the Comp.Scientifically challenged - I give X money encouraging him/her to run for the good cause. X runs. Someone else gives money because X ran and is thinking of running again. X runs again. Some other someone else gives money to X. And it goes on...).
IMHO, if you want to run (for whatever reason), RUN, for God's sake. And if you want to donate money for charity, DONATE. I should think a person who donates money for charity via a contribution to someone's run would anyway donate money to charity. Some XYZ running acts as a means for this person to donate, it isn't the stimulant or motivating factor for a person who was otherwise not going to donate any money, to donate money.
But mixing the two doesn't make sense. I mean it, really. Or at least, I can't figure it out.
  • Unakku thala valicha naan mazhaila shoes'kku badhila seruppu pottundu enna prayojanam?
  • Obama'kku phone adicha naan saappadu saapttuttu sound'a yeppam vidaama irukkardhula enna sambandham?
Reminds me of this hilarious scene from Jillunu Oru Kadhal. :D
Yes, before you say it, I've also thought about Chaos Theory/Butterfly Effect-related reasons. But this explanation will not hold water because the theory holds good only for random events causing random effects...Like -
  • Unakku thala valiyoda Ranganathan Street'la you walking. Me also walking there for Karumbu Juice kudiching plus Thaayar Dairy Vadaam stocking. Suddenly rain coming. All of us running for shelter into Saravana "2-Rupee Samsa" Stores. Appo I accidentally stamp on your foot. You already in head-ache. Now rain. Plus me stamping on your foot. If shoes, your vali unbearable and you slap me. If slippers, I can just slip away because water everywhere and you didn't notice my kaal-midhithal.
  • I am holidaying in Hawaii and walking outside Obama's patti's house. Ange after a semma saappadu (Ok, imagination obviously) I loudly burp. Distracted by my burp, a taxi driver suddenly halts car. Crash. Accident. Secret Service agent from inside patti's house comes outside and takes me in for questioning seeing me at the site. Unearths my Chicago connection. I also belong to Shah Rukh Khan-land. I wear Veebudhi most of time => suicide-mission Anthrax-spreader possibility. Emergency. Call White House.
You see? Ivlo kashta pattu I need to bring a connection to associate Running and Charity. Onnume Puriyaliye...Ada Pongappa.