Chai With Your Pina Colada?
Quite unwittingly, I am living my own version of bipolar disorder.
|An avid follower of Champ Americana and her dreams, my days are for the cult of Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and his style quotient. But my nights belong to my local hero MSD — Mahendra Singh Dhoni of course — and his cricket fiefdom. As for me, I coexist in both worlds.|
I am consumed all day with LBJ — the wild jump, the runaway shots, the slam dunk, the thumping of chest, the index-finger pointing into my face through the comfort of my television sets, the wild swoosh and unapologetic showmanship. The cumulative energy gives me a hefty sense of freedom in the glory of broad daylight from my past.
But my nights are for finesse, style and mastery over the classics, in manners classical, that take me back to myself as I was meant to be. Even in the most abridged — and bombastic — version called the Indian Premier League, I keep searching for soft cover drives and the gentle cuts that steer the ball past the boundary line.
I love sports and all that it’s evolved into in America. Frankly, for me, it’s more than the umpteen slam dunk of LeBron; it’s about the sound bytes, the lights, the colors, the intoxicating wildness and the pulsating calisthenics of the cheerleaders. Boy-O-boy! How woefully drab these arenas would be without the wriggles and thrusts in sheen outfits. Like the rest of you, I watch the whole event as a package. I love it just the way my America is seduced by it.
But the moment I change channels, in an instant, I am transported to different tastes, different sensibilities and different opinions. I loves cricket with a passion that words can’t capture — it is something that can only be felt. My heart sings halleluiah to the deities on the field. But the off-the-field Apsaras (Cheerleaders) are for the fringes, an uncalled-for tease, nothing more than a below-the-belt bar-dancer.
What a change I go through in a span of 24 hours to justify my existence. The crisp saris over the bold shots, is a painful attempt to hide more than the bare legs — it’s a way to hide my soul, my being, and a blueprint that I never quite discovered, at least not yet. Something’s got to be terribly wrong, either with me, or the world around.
Just the other day I was at an egalitarian ensemble. We talked about the butchering of human rights in Darfur at length. I nodded at the facts I did not know and blabbered whatever little I knew. At the end, I topped it off with hearty contribution to make my presence felt. Oh! What a perfect evening it culminated into when everyone acknowledged my passionate plea for equal rights.
But then this is only the one — and the adapted — side of me.
To my origins, I owe a different side that rates a certain social stratification above everything human. And here is the irony: I like it that way. The feudalistic bend of what was once my nation has empowered me to not just control my life, but many lives — a retinue of servants follow me around town. These poor souls don’t go by their names, but by designation — jhadoo-poncha wali, toilet cleaner, washerman, driver. Believe me, it does not end there. They live on my pittance and, of course, a daily doze of invectives. But they never backchat, they never can, in deference to my India.
You may say, as one of the fresh-off-the-boat, I have started living in the complexities of my own algorithm and that has left me with a bunch load of hypocrisies to deal with. You know what, you may well be right. I feel compelled to sip Chai and Pina Colada at the same time. Why can’t I just pass one for the other?
Somehow, I have taken over the mantel of CD (confused desi) from the original — and unwilling —claimant to this infamous acronym, without the AB (American born) of course. The original ABs have slowly moved on to mesh with the mainstream without pretensions. They view my India not as theirs, and there is no nostalgia or mushy tell-tales in their narratives or reminiscences — indeed, they hardly reminisce anything Indian. India is viewed with a certain cynical objectivism. A mosquito bite or an open sewage is not to be romanticized. It’s a sore — one on the body, other on the city, and it is best dealt with that way — plainly, honestly, matter-of-factly.
But when it comes to me, there is something two-faced about me. I try hard to hide behind the make-believe of adaptability and that “When in Rome do what the Romans do” theory, but something feels inexplicable, even defeatist, about it.
Gosh! My body and mind have enacted so many roles that I am starting to forget what really makes for an honest and simple me. Who knows, quite unwittingly, I am living my own version of bipolar disorder.