Friday, October 22, 2004

Blessed 3 day weekend, now I get to recover from all the hectic work which I'm not doing at the office. Much to the delight of all my readers, I have decided to update my blog.

Last week, my family was invited to dinner at my cousins place. My cousin is a model, and a fairly well known one. That makes her radically different from the engineers, managers and scientists who populate my family(God forbid, I'm an electrical engineer by qualification and a software engineer by profession...what went wrong?? I was supposed to become a truck driver and run over people with smaller vehicles...).

Thus while the rest of the young women in the family are either quietly studying or married, my cousin walks the ramp, her pictures are splashed across magazines and giant billboards across the city show her looking meditatively into the distance while wearing lots of jewellery.

Now comes the uncomfortable part.Magazines these days wont take your picture if you are swathed in cloth. Her profession requires her to show some skin in order to promote herself. Hence magazines often carry pictures of her in compromising attire. This tends to rub against the finer sensibilities of the senior members of the family.

Her pictures are decried by the senior citizens, her lifestyle criticized behind her back when they meet at family gatherings. "Cant believe she's doing this!" or " What is the youth coming to! " or " Kali Yuga started the moment women began revealing themselves in public! " are statements vehemently and often made.

My cousin however seems oblivious to the criticism generously heaped upon her choice of profession. She leads her life the way she wants to and makes a lot of money in the process. She makes no attempt to keep a low profile when aged relatives visit. She wears and does she wants. Not for her the salwar kameez and the docile manner, she is the master of her choices.

Thus Prashant and I found ourselves in a precarious position when we visited. She was wearing something which complimented her very fine figure and we found it rather difficult to take our eyes off her. With our mothers and grandmothers watching our every move, we had to tread a fine line. How to take in as much of her as we could while appearing entirely disinterested? It took a lot of effort on our parts to look at her and not let our eyes widen , jaws drop, drool onto the carpet and pretend this was just an ordinary family get together.

As time progressed I realised that the two of us were not behaving normally. Usually we would slouch, talk as loudly as we could, laugh noisily, mix hindi, english and tamil slang to suit our conversation and basically behave as boors. In front of my cousin, we sat with our backs straight, spoke the queens english and tried to appear as refined as possible. Nonchalant charm was frequently attempted. Each word was articulated and pronounced perfectly. What made us behave so peculiarly? Why couldnt we just be ourselves?

My cousin then casually dropped a magazine into my lap and said " Dinesh, here are the pics from my latest photo shoot. What do you think of them?". In front of me were pictures of cousin scantily clad in diaphanous material and on either side sat a mother and a grandmother. Difficult indeed. I smiled guiltily at my mother and tried to casually flip through the pages, repressing the urge to tear the pages and stuff them into my pocket for later perusal. My mother and grandmother stared stonily at the pictures and then glared at me. What could I do?

Inspite of the flak that she draws from the more conservative memebers of the family, there's no denying that everyone is fascinated by the life she leads. Her life has that glamour element which is missing from our own lives. Nobody wants to take a picture of me in my underwear, I'm only a software engineer. TV channels dont want to know what I think of the most happening places in the city. Magazines dont want me to give relationship advice and I am certainly not consulted on the latest fashion accessories.

Thus we pretend to dislike her lifestyle but secretly wish we could have a little bit of glamour in our own lives. When we are with her, we pretend to be fully acquainted with aspects out of our reach. Discos, pubs, movie stars..oh been there, done that..nothing special there.

Then we come back home and say " That girl is going the wrong way! " but I dont think we mean it. Perhaps we say it out of compulsion, fearing that the other person might think we actually approve of my cousin.

I wonder how things will be 10 years from now when perhaps my cousin would be a little too old to model. What then? Will the galmour and the attention go away? or will she continue to be the darling of the local press? How will our impression of her change then? Only time will tell.


Anand said...

Some of my 'western' friends will be very interested in this post. I keep talking to them about the 'image' of a conservative India that is not quite what it is! There are similar issues here as well. There are little old ladies, who not too long ago shed their clothes in public as part of the sexual revolution of the post-war era: grandmothers now. Nice people to talk to.

Kartik Kannan said...




The Insane Genius said...

u know i never thought that prashanth could drop his jaw and drool and all that.
well u learn something new everyday :P
btw mail me and tell me which ads ur cuzn has been in...i feel the sudden urge to get to know her and all that :P