December 13, 2005

Divides

Which side are you on? I must ask you this question since I have never figured out which side of any divide do I belong to. Theoretically, I am an Indian who hails from the southernmost state in the country - Kerala, who was spent the last six years of his life in New Delhi. Practically speaking, I use an alien language - English - to communicate more than my mother tongue - Malayalam - or Hindi, which is the national language. My lifestyle and beliefs are asynchronous with both the western and Indian versions of the same and culturally I don't subscribe to any beliefs, nor do I celebrate any of the known festivals. Mostly by intent and a little bit by accident, I really do not belong to any side.

I was born a Hindu. I did my schooling for ten years in a Hindu school and did the next five years of my education in a Christian institution, though I have to clarify that the latter did not force down their faith down my throat as the former used to do. Interestingly, I can still mouth a couple of chapters from the Bhagavad Gita in mangled Sanskrit, though I would be totally clueless about what I am reciting in the first place. I have never believed much in the concept of a God, though I do have the habit of praying to anyone who is listening out there, when it comes to matters concerning the wellbeing of the handful of people I really care about. Here too I don't have a much of an opinion. Neither am I a believer, nor am I an atheist.

Politically, I grew up in a really mixed up environment. My family was one of those staunch en masse Congress voter types who would go the extra mile to hide their latent sympathies for the Jan Sangh/BJP/RSS variations. A lot of my friends and people I knew were staunchly aligned with the Left side of the political spectrum and in the early years they definitely had my sympathy. Over time, I have grown to dislike and disown each and every political formulation. As an art from that stretches the limits of logic, politics does interest me, but beyond that it I find it to be boring, tedious and largely repetitive. Strangely, for all the disdain I have for it, I seem to track American politics more than the Indian version these days.

For as long as I could remember there has always been music in some form in my house. I grew up listening to Hindi and Malayalam music on All India Radio and the folks were great Carnatic music aficionados. Somewhere along the way my fascination with western music came alive which took a pretty circuitous route from the usual suspects of Michael Jackson, Boney M, ABBA to rock, heavy metal, grindcore, jazz, finally ending up with a lot of electronica and off beat things that sound good to my ears. With that progression my old contention of any genre, but what I like, being rubbish disappeared. I still do like Carnatic, Hindustani, house, trance, rock and lot of other things, but I can't find any favourite divide here either.

I do agree and understand that a lack of belonging need not necessarily be a bad thing and I do seem to love hanging in this state of suspended animation - switching from one island to another, not necessarily because I love it, but because I can't find that niche or that warm corner to tuck myself into. In effect, I have nothing against anyone or anything, but mostly I don't quite like too much about anyone or anything. As a direct result of this I have succeeded in isolating myself further into a corner which is not necessarily mine or of my liking, but at least I don't have to tolerate anyone other than myself in there. The reasoning and the logic behind this is a bit warped, I know, but that warpedness is another story for another day.