Let’s get it to it then. The week that was, with yours truly.
Now that everyone has decided their wedding must resemble a Bollywood Musical, I get to watch many dance performances that were choreographed by a creative cousin or an out-of-work choreographer. So this is how I came across the Punjabi rap song Wakhra Swag (Unique Swag), in which, to nobody’s surprise, two men talk about their unique swag. While doing so, they decide to hate on youth (read women) who run behind fast fashion and branded consumer goods. They single out Gucci, Armani, Aldo and Audi for their cause. The men, naturally, are true sons of the soil, wearing black kurta-pyjama, locally sourced shoes, and driving a 350cc Yamaha motorcycle. Of course, women serve other purposes in the music video – like trying out sexy steps every twenty seconds or pretending to put on make-up, because these are things that women typically do. They are also paid to smile as rappers get in their face to tell them off for their poor choices. As the video draws to a close, the girl under fire walks about wearing a patiala suit, no doubt the rap song showed her how wrong she was. The man watches her, and shows her the universally recognized hand sign that means Super! But he’s wearing Jimmy Choo shoes as he does this. Maybe they are fake Jimmy Choos he bought in Delhi-6.
Having got that out of the way, we shall move on to more pleasant discussions, such as my day at The Hindu Lit for Life 2017. I would like to talk to about two sessions in particular – Poet Vairamuthu’s seemingly extemporaneous speech on Words, Music and Meaning; and Dr. Perumal Murugan’s conversation with A.R. Venkatachalapathy, whom he fondly called Chalapathy. As Vairamuthu recalled familiar anecdotes, involving at least two musical geniuses and some extraordinary directors, I started smiling to myself. Do you think he talks this way at home, to his family, I wondered. Would he speak to his sons in chaste Tamil? What if they picked up that notorious Chennai slang from playing in the streets and called him Naina, would he ground them? It is not imperative to know these answers. If Vairamuthu reminded me of a teacher we are openly in awe of and secretly a little bit in love with; the author Perumal Murugan reminded me of an affable friend of our father’s, whom you might want to confide in, you imagine he could tell you the kind of stories that make you feel guilty for not having a story to give him in return. There was one point that Perumal Murugan made, and he said this thought came to him on completing Koola Madhari. Where earlier he thought his life to be one of hardships, of straining to overcome new and strange obstacles, he now thought of his life until then as a happy one. Why do the good parts desert us faster, he asked. I am going to make an effort to remember the good parts more often, even if the bad bits change me in unforeseen ways and make me want to open up to strangers. This is a fairly simple idea, but it is entirely possible that my recent laps in the waters of self-pity had blinded me temporarily.
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