Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Unshushables

Ever since I started living on my own, I haven’t really “celebrated” Diwali. Honestly, I have never really understood WHY I need to celebrate it, especially in the way it’s usually celebrated: crackers, sweets, rangoli, lights and the other elaborate and intricate rituals that come with it. For all I know, give me four days of break from work, a couple of friends, pizza and some good movies with really good print, I can spend every day in peace and quiet, not to mention, complete darkness.

Now there is something very fundamental about Diwali which I hate: NOISE. For someone soft spoken, understated and restrained, I am very Bengali when it comes to day-to-day habits. You may call me pretentiously intellectual, but I simply hate loudness in any form, including its literal rendition. Be it the strident jokes/discussions at work, blaring loudspeakers during festivals, deafening music at a pub or simply Arnab Goswami being himself, I can’t bear anything which hurts my ears. Or as Jerry Seinfeld would say, I am a shusher who is always killing the mood, by shushing people around her, when they are just enjoying themselves: by shouting, or singing loudly, or talking on the mobile in a movie theatre, or bursting crackers.

But this is where you underestimate us, Indians. No other nation holds a candle to us when it comes to making noise. It’s part of our competitive streak. Go to any group discussion for a business school or campus interview and you would realize how 21 year old Indians prove themselves. When you grow up in an environment of unhealthy competition, there is no way to get noticed: to be heard, you need to be the loudest of them all. What you say is unimportant as long as people know you are talking. Nobody is listening anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the unbridled joy in wasting burning my money in the most literal way possible, but of course, that’s not enough. Others should also KNOW that I did it. So, unless I burst that particular cracker for which the noise travels the farthest or breaks all the decibel related laws, it just doesn’t give me the same pleasure. Diwali is nothing without a bunch of old people sitting in their homes, shutting their windows and pulling the drapes and putting on Times Now at maximum volume to drown the noise outside.

Now it feels like Diwali. Move over the Untouchables. It’s time for the Unshushables…

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