Aug 16, 2010

Cosmopolitan? Really?

I was watching the news yesterday, and I got to know that one of the so-called 'Maratha political parties' was demanding that radio stations play Marathi music, and multiplexes show Marathi films.

Let me make it clear at the outset that I have nothing against that, or the concept or against any sect, religion or region. But I do have an opinion as everyone does, and I do have the right to express it, just like the parties and the people do.

Many languages are dying, and many cultures are becoming influenced by Western ideals. I agree. I also agree that Indian culture deserves to be preserved. But is it our culture to fight, break things, create a riot and force people to believe what you believe? I may not have read many religious texts, but I do know for sure that none of them promote violence, abusive behaviour and forceful submission at any cost. Indian values have always been about peace, unity and integrity and that does not change with state or region or language. That is also why Indians are known the world over for their hospitality, their warmth and their welcoming behaviour. So when we talk about preserving our culture in a way that is actually against our culture, it's quite ironic right?

Now moving to regionalism. I talk about Maharashtra because I have been a Bombayite (yes I say Bombay!) all my life. This is the place I am familiar with, and relate to. And no matter what the name is, I know it as Bombay, I love it as Bombay. Calling it Mumbai does not make it closer to my heart, and calling it Bombay does not make it feel alien and Anglicised.

So back to the topic. Marathi films and music. I like Marathi films, though I don't understand them entirely. But what I do get, I like. I especially like Marathi theatre. And of course, staying in this city, you can't stay away from its music. But no one is going to like it if they are forced to hear it. Art has it's beauty and people should be allowed to appreciate it at will. Thrusting it in their faces will not make them open to it. On the other hand, it may have just the opposite effect.

Bombay is a cosmopolitan city. And it is what it is because of people of all communities. To say that only Maharashtrians, or Gujaratis or South Indians are the core of the city, or that North Indians or East Indians are not welcome would be wrong. Everyone has made the city and everyone should be respected.

Yes, radio should have regional music. But instead of forcing private stations, why don't people who believe in the cause start one themselves? Why don't the political parties start an NGO that promotes the regional arts, from films to music to the language?

I am a Bombayite by heart, or Mumbaiyya by name. I have lived here all my life, and earned the right to be called that. And as a citizen, I have the right to choose what I want to hear or not, what I want to see and what I want to appreciate. No furniture breaking, bandh proclaiming, slogan shouting, flag waving party can take that away from me. Tell me peacefully and I will think about whether I want to support you. Force it on me and I will make sure I never vote for you, and of course neither do my friends and family.

Simple logic right?

My Independence... or is it?

On the eve on independence day, I quit my job. On impulse. I didn't like it there. I was bored, I was frustrated and everyday was a test of my patience. So one day I stopped taking the test and quit. Some called it a rash decision, but again, I am the kind of person who cannot be at a place if I feel like I am doing nothing there. I wasn't growing, I wasn't learning, I wasn't doing anything worthwhile. It was all just a big black hole, where I kept getting more and more confused. In fact, it even had me doubting my career choice. I pulled myself together and then demanded my independence.

But that is where the idealistic tale ends. I am 23. And I have quit my job. I am not sure about my career choice. And I have told myself to give myself a chance at something else before jumping back into advertising. I have many passions, I have many things I like. But how do you know if what you like and what you are good at can translate into what you do for a living? How do I know which is the best combination of like and skill for me?

I love to travel and I love to write (and I don't suck at either), so travel writing is an option. But again that's a field that many dream about, one of those utopian careers for most.

I have been told I have a good voice, and I have found Voiceovers as an interesting medium. Again, I have no idea how to start with it or whom to go. It is one of those word-of-mouth fields that works on contacts.

I like brands and communication. I like to plan things and organise. I know I can be very good at managing brands and their communication. I know what is required, I am passionate about it, and focussed. So that's another option I have, if someone will take me.

I love a lot of other things. And I am not bad at them either. But what out of these works as a career. What out of these will give me money? It's a decision I have to make. Maybe I need to jump into something, maybe not. I don't know. But what I do know is that now is the time. Now is when I can take that risk. Because if I fail, I won't drown at least.

Meanwhile, I am thinking of fulfilling another idealistic wish. A break and a vacation. Maybe a nice trip. Maybe a course in something that makes me happy. Maybe sitting at home with some coffee and mindless TV. Things that are rarely possible. But, what the hell! Why not? After all, Independence should always be happy.