Sprawled out on the couch, was seeing this movie once again last night. It was set in 2001 and that is when it struck me that so much and so little had changed in the mean time…. As you know the man and the women are stuck in a remote part of west Bengal and have to stay there in a riot struck curfew zone till there is some break in the scene.
The changes in everyday life from now to then were so surreal to see
1. the main actors did not have mobile phones and/or internet connectivity
2. Rahul bose was a photographer and was shooting on film not on digital mode
3. the near absence of cyber cafes.. in the entire zone
4. Walkmans still being used to listen to music in the bus.
But something’s remained eternal to India .. the singing hindi film songs that somehow always seem to revolve around the RD Burman song era, the obsession for eating and playing cards. The mix of languages and lack of empathy for the other passengers are all what happened then and happen now. The asking the deepest most personal question without a qualm, sharing food that goes up and down the bus without even knowing the other person, conversations had in a tone that are louder than normal and embarrass the other.
But there is a sense of easy familiarity that comes with it. See it with M all the time; when we are out together; also because there is a certain ease that he carries about himself that permits people to just come and be around him effortlessly.. but there is a deep set desire to engage, share and know about you and where you are from and what you are about.
Yesterday, as we ate lunch at a local dhabha a little boy – must have been about 12 or so came up and was curious to see how the beer bottle had been opened minus and opener, so he came up to M and simply asked point blank.. show me! And he did. This for me is sometimes what india can be about.. a open directness that is just there. And yet at the same time, this round and round conversations that seem to layer every interaction that we may have.