Wannabe Activities That Masquerade As Hobbies

One of the prevelant traits of urbanisation is the upsurge of wannabe behaviour & attitudes. Wannabes are people who do and say things for the sole purpose of fitting in or seeming cool. While I have no problem with the activities or the words themselves, the obvious fakeness of their endeavors really gets my goat.

  • Food – Only the most basic need of every living creature. What makes this one suspect is that the average ‘foodie’s taste doesn’t go beyond mummy’s food, perennial streetfood favorites like panipuri & unanimously popular restaurants. Everyone enjoys a good biryani, panipuri, steak or pasta. What sets you apart from the entire human race?
  • Travel- I still can’t understand what makes people count this as a hobby. Travel means going to a different place. If it’s not on work, it means you’re on a vacation. Find me one person who doesn’t enjoy that. Again, what sets you apart from every schoolkid, corporate

    whore, ratrace junkie?

  • Holding a DSLR Camera

    Image via Wikipedia

    Photography – This one is misleading. On the surface of it, it looks & sounds like a real hobby and an artistic one at that. Indeed, a decade ago, it would have been considered a respectable interest to have. But in this day & age of digicams, phone cameras and point-and-shoots which you can all but have sex with….what’s that mammoth clicker for, but to show off? What gets me is when people pull out foot-long lenses to photograph a plate of food right in front of them. Weren’t those created to be able to shoot dangerous animals in their habitat, in the perfectly civil role of a wildlife enthusiast?

  • Cause Crusading- Animal rights. Corruption. Energy saving. Endangered species. Clicking ‘Like’ on a Facebook Page called ‘Let’s vote for (whatever cause)’ does not further the cause. Forwarding an SMS about said cause to everyone in your address book is spam, not crusading. Wearing a tee-shirt with a cause-ey byline helps fund the marketer’s brand, not aid a cause. If you really care about the cause, give something of yourself, starting with time spent finding out exactly what you’re campaigning and what the problem is. I don’t think half the people who wore Gandhi hats & liked/forward the Anna Hazare campaign even knew what Lokpal was.

I call this ‘The Glee Club of Hobbies’. You don’t have to have a talent or skill. You don’t need to know much about anything. And you don’t even need to spend the kind of time & energy that it takes to familiarize & become good at most other hobbies. These are things that everybody does.

I’m just mystified by why they’re suddenly cool. Everywhere around me, I see & hear people talking about one of these as their passions. These get put on resumes, listed on Twitter profiles & linked to on Facebook.

I suspect it’s just the pressure to show that one has a meaningful, full life, complete with hobbies that absorb & enrich one. Gah, wannabedom, your worshippers will even fake what gets them off.

Ideamarked! December 2010: Internet Delights, Online Wars, Schooltime Nostalgia, Curd Rice, Romance, Art & Writing

I’ve had a busy December, what with friends from out-of town, the big relationship questions, getting started on the Yahoo! Real Beauty arrangement and a month-long writing exercise (you’ll have to read further to know what!). But I still managed to keep an eye on things of mutual interest, dear reader. *Pause for applause* :-D I’m feeling upbeat and high-spirited this month. So be nice and leave a comment or two telling me what you think and what else you’d like to see.

  • This would have been par de course in an 80s Bollywood flick dhak-dhak style! (via AwkwardFamilyPhotos)
  • Getting ready for the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2011.
  • This really appeals to the Ideartist in me! (via PS-IMadeThis)
  • A month-long writing exercise with a daily prompt (via Reverb10) Hat-tipped by Lakshmi Jagad. Also see my posts on this, here.
  • I first heard this song featured on the soundtrack of ’13 Going On 30′ and then fell in love with it. It was the theme song of my journey to the big Three-O and beyond. (Billy Joel’s Vienna Waits For You via YouTube)
  • Two drifters off to see the world, there’s so much of world to see. A classic. (Breakfast in Tiffany’s Moon River via YouTube)
  • Stoopid copywriters, funny fails! (via Failblog)
  • An interesting concept: Turning off your phone as a technological gesture of affection. (via Arzan Wadia)
  • Some of us miss the forest for the trees. And then there are those who remind us to stop and pick a fruit and savour it before burning the forest down. (Ashwini Mishra on the small things)
  • I came upon this blog from a reader response. It took me back to my early days of blogging when blogs were personal journals (not blossoming ebusiness ideas) and bloggers were ordinary human beings (not the next big Internet celebrity). I particularly liked the idea of this tag (yes, another throwback to those days of yore) and his answers. (via Yuva Anandan)
  • I ran into an online war with Bombay Elektrik Projekt after I tweeted that I was disappointed with their Monday Night Slam event. They slammed me on their Facebook page and on Twitter. An account of the event is here.
  • I didn’t send this one in but it instantly reminded me of my Best Friend. (via PostSecret)
  • An ode to that humble king of South Indian cuisine – thayir sadam (curd rice to you philistines). The article has liberal local references so you’re advised to carry a Tamil-English dictionary. But it is worth a read. Damn, my stomach’s growling. And this after having had a sumptous dinner of the aforementioned thayir sadam!! (via HawkEyeView)
  • Remember the teenage sleuthing trio of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews? My early adolescence was checkered with the adventures of The Three Investigators. Here’s remembering.
  • Horsing around (via AwkwardSchoolPictures)
  • Things you would never know without the movies (via TheTopSpace)
  • “Not email but Facebook may launch its own country by Monday!” (via FakingNews).
  • Hardware meets software? The clash of the giants. A good read, even for the techno-greeks. “Apple versus Google” (via IntelligentLife)
  • From the idea-archives: My article on learning to cook from the internet, which featured in JetLite’s in-flight magazine in October 2010. Cooking wannabes and seasoned chefs, do take note! (on The Idea-smithy)

If you see yourself (or your site featured here, if you’d like to be or if you’re just intrigued by the Ideamarked posts, do drop into The Idea-smithy Facebook Page and tell me about it. I love company!

Reverb 10.22: A Ticket To Kolkata

Getting today’s Reverb10 prompt in just 90 minutes short of midnight. It’s been a day of making deadlines by a whisker! It’s actually a great question since it is so different from the same old-same old ones that have come before this.

December 22 – Travel

How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

(Author: Tara Hunt)

I don’t remember visiting any new places in 2010, more’s the pity. I went to Pune (twice) and that’s about the extent of my travel outside Mumbai. Last year I managed to visit Chennai, Marakkanam, Pondicherry, Pune, Hyderabad, Goa and Alibag and in 2008, I toured the Greek Islands and Turkey. This hasn’t been a great year for my suitcase, I admit.

One place I would really like to visit is Kolkata and for a number of reasons. First, it is the only major city in the country that I don’t know intimately. I was born in *shudder* Delhi, visited Chennai each year in the summer, lived in Bangalore for 3 months and call Mumbai home.

Secondly, it appears to be the cultural haven that none of the cities familiar to me, are. The Kolkata that I imagine is full of books (and book-lovers), art, music and culture. Maybe that perception is incorrect, maybe it is outdated or maybe it’s true. I’d like to find out for myself.

Thirdly, it is the city of a number of people I’ve known and loved. A very many of my Bengali friends trace their roots there (obviously). Precious grew up there. Adi moved there earlier this year. Trisha (new friend…yay, yay!) is there. And finally, the boy himself calls himself a Calcuttan (his description, not mine). The place you come from, that you call home says a great deal about you. Each of these have been people that have shared my home city and my associations with it. I would love to be able to do the same with them.

Traveller’s Tales

A young man travels in search of adventure, in search of tales, tall if at all, to tell back home. It’s a quest for personal glory. There is also romance, the search for beautiful women, for the luxuries of life and for triumph over difficult situations.

Why do we travel?

A quest, a search for someone or something? But some of us just are running away. At the end of the travels, we find just what we were trying so hard to leave behind and we realize that we’ve been carrying it within us all along. That, indeed, we’re trying so very hard to hide from ourselves and finally, that the further we go, the nearer we come to ourselves. Because a traveler knows, no matter how light you travel, you always carry your mind with you.

In a new situation, where no one knows you, you can be whoever you want. Anonymity is the opportunity to create a new identity. And then comes along someone who knows you. Some titbit of news and the opening notes of a familiar song. With it, a growing feeling of panic and relief rolled into one.

Panic as the fear of being pulled back into whatever the old identity most threatened. Relief at finding out that, uncomfortable as it was, being you is the only home there is.

~O~O~O~O~O~

Epilogue: I read this at the Caferati Open Mic event at Prithvi today. Some pieces are better read than read out aloud and I realized mine probably fall in the former.

Those of you who have been following my blog-adventures will probably see in a minute that this piece was less to do with any tangible travel and more about my own personal journey from anonymity to…identity, perhaps?

For the record, two people showed some appreciation - a good friend and a stranger who kept looking at me before I read and then asked me out to coffee after I had finished. No further comment.

Three-Quarterly Review

While everyone in the accounts departments sits heavy on numbers and does a stock-taking quarter-by-quarter of the year that was, it occurs to me to do the same with my life. Except this is a three-quarterly review. Of my 29th year.

I’ll be 30 this July and it’s an odd thing but instead of feeling 29, I’ve been feeling ‘one away from 30′. It’s like the way numbers are counted in Hindi where 19, 29 and so on are one less than the nearest 10-multiple. Okay forget that, yes, it is the big Three-O looming up ahead. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a big deal (yes, even if I know theoretically it shouldn’t be, life begins at 30 yada yada…). I’m human after all and there’s so much swirling in my head, I’m not waiting till July to write about it. And thus begins the 30 diaries – a special set of features on the experience of hitting 30.

So what has been happening these last three quarters of my one-away-from-30 year? Plenty.

Love life: A non-boyfriend and a non-relationship. The customary one-in-a-few years check in on someone that went off well. Ask no questions and hear no lies. A few crushes-that-go-nowhere. A pang.

Travel: I visited two new countries. My first visit to Europe (well I’ve been to London but that was on work and I had no sight-seeing or fun) and my first time on a cruise as well. I didn’t write enough of about it. Frown.

Career: I changed jobs. Well, technically I’m still with the same company but in a completely different role, practically a 180 degree turn. Do I like it? I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t hate it. Yet.

Media: I got featured in the press a few times. Only once accurately. These journos, what to tell ya… :-D

Death: I’ve attended two funerals, both within a fortnight of each other. One, my best friend’s father who succumbed after a long and difficult struggle. The other, a wonderful and dear colleague whom I still miss.

Interests: My favorite bookstore was shut for 4 months on account of a fire. I received books and only books as birthday gifts. A book-voucher as a gift from a reader. And another as a V-day gift. :-)

I’ve written and written and written. (Yet another) group-blog. I didn’t contribute to the Kala Ghoda Gazette this year despite attending the festival.

Every now and then I remember that I used to paint. And promise myself that I’ll take it up again. Still waiting.

Last night I dreamt that I went on stage to sing. That was after facing numerous hurdles like the compere scheduling me without telling me, a new compere not letting me on stage, the orchestra packing up (wherein I begged and begged the restaurant musicians to back me up and they did), another guy sabotaging my audience by paying them off, a semi-drunk wandering up on stage and ruining my song by singing off-key. Oddly I ended the song with my back to the audience but they gave me a loud encore. Wherin I woke up. So another reminder. I used to sing too. And I used to sing well, not just in the bathroom. Ah, the lives that we let go of with the choices we make!

Health: Twice in seven months, I had major health scares – arthritis and spondilitis. Both of them turned out to be indicative of calcium deficiency caused by a Vitamin D deficit. I didn’t know whether to laugh or frown when the final prognosis was,

Worry less and get out in the sun more often!

Ironic that very morning I remarked that,

I’ve turned into one of those horrible people who feels guilty about taking a day off from work, even if it is sick leave.

Ironic turns to miraculous when I remember that a decade ago I dropped a year from college, without remorse or second thought. When did I turn into super-efficient whizkid? This isn’t me, this so isn’t who I am.

Things I Wrote At Sea

Yes, I did think of the world that makes home – friends, blog, work, people – a lot. I promised myself I wouldn’t blog or worry or stress or do any of the things I normally do, while on vacation. But two measly days in, I found myself reaching for my pen and notebook. I couldn’t help it anymore than I could help thinking, I realized. When I stop writing, I’ll stop being. So here goes nothing – my scribbles from my two weeks away. There’s a lot more where that came from. Thank you so much for reading.

It is the knowledge that you have someplace to come back to, that makes travelling delightful.

~o~o~o~

Does distance really make the heart grow fonder? If you care for someone, aren’t they in your thoughts, often, alive and well? And conversations and meetings are just taping sessions for records that may be played over and over again for years and years.

~o~o~o~

Romance has been lost, this is true. Waiting as a concept exists no more. There are no long, yearning waits for people long absent. There aren’t any waits for news, patience the only alternative to insanity in a world of dangers and no returns. We don’t wait for letters to be delivered, for people to come back or even long-distance calls to be put through. Everything is available, yesterday. And there’s nothing left to wait for. Isn’t that supposed to signify the end of life?

~o~o~o~

Two men flirted with me today. A Greek, suave, confident and smooth – conversing easily without slicking it and holding my interest in his gaze. And a Turk with a broad smile and a mischievious wink, his intentions perfectly clear, his gaze entirely appreciative. I was wearing shorts.So my body draws attention. I love it myself but my face leaves me short. Never mind, I’ve gotten used to thinking that my assets lie elsewhere. But when they change, stay assets no more, what will I do? Will I remember my own adage that there’s no greater beauty than a body that can perform every function that it was designed to? Legs that hold me and carry me places. Hands and fingers that do…so much. Eyes that see, read – the most wonderous gift of all. A body that runs near perfectly requiring little aid and only some care.

I stay beautiful as long as I can do all that. And as long as I can remember that.

~o~o~o~

Sometimes it is nice to just be by yourself, not because you don’t like other people but simply to experience yourself every now and then and see what other people see…and what they don’t.

~o~o~o~

What bonds people together? A common need – like vegetarians huddling together on this adventure of non-vegetarians? Or a shared past – classmates, colleagues, neighbors, playmates? Shared interests like books, music, photography, wine, travel? Similar demographics – neighbors, religious communities, parents of school-going children? And yet we labour under the delusion that relationships are about compatibility or love.

It seems like we select the most convenient people we can and mold ourselves to fit the association. Human beings are enormously flexible.

~o~o~o~

Home

I’m usually a real home-bird. That will surprise a lot of people who know me because I spend so little time in my house. But that’s a place with four walls. The fact is that I have a strong attachment to places, especially those with memories. I relate to places almost the way I do, with people. Leaving a place feels like a part of me is getting torn away, much like parting with a loved one. And being in a new place, much like meeting a new person, fills me with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. Apprehension since the new experience is so different from the ones I’m used to. Excitement over the very same thing. And oh, actually a new place (and a new person) always remind me of why I love home so much (or the people in my life). Travelling has always been a learning experience and one that ends with the exuberant feeling of “I’m home!!!!”.

I travelled to London this week. It is my first trip out of the continent. And for a long time now, I’ve looked forward to visiting the land of Enid Blyton, the Beatles, P G Wodehouse, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones. The first thing I felt when I walked out of Heathrow was the cold, crisp air on my face (bundled up as I was everywhere else). And then the thought that I finally understood the meaning of ‘cold, crisp air’.

I got a lot of work done, met a lot of people from different countries. It was interesting. But something was missing. What? The apprehension. And the excitement. I wasn’t a bit nervous as I usually am with new people. I didn’t develop stage-fright even as I made a presentation to a panel of the top management. And would you believe it….I was dressed in an orange pullover and jeans in a roomful of suits and business skirts. It wasn’t intentional but situational…but I can’t believe how easily I breezed through it, unflinchingly. I did fret a bit about it to my friend, but really I was more worried about the fact that I wasn’t worried. Isn’t that odd now? Either I cared a helluva lot for what I was going to say (too much to worry about other things) or I didn’t care a damn about anything. I still can’t decide.

And oddly enough, when I touched down at Mumbai airport, walking down to customs, I realised there was something missing. Passport…check. Baggage tag…check. Backpack, purse, mobile phone….all in place. Ah.

I didn’t feel excited about being home.

I wasn’t sad about being home. I wasn’t happy. I just didn’t feel a thing. No more “I’m home!!!!” feeling. And then it occurred to me….I don’t feel like I’m home. I actually squinted out into the sunshine to check that I had, indeed gotten onto the right flight to the right place. Everything looked right. But it doesn’t feel like home.

I don’t know what or where home is anymore. All this is, now is a place with most of my memories and people I love. But home is a feeling, not a place. One I haven’t had in a long while.

I fly far and I fly wide
But I always come back home

This time, I flew out
But I haven’t come home
Because I don’t remember what home looks like or feels like

Could I maybe come back to the place I took off from
And find you waiting there
And perhaps find that home is indeed,
where the people who make you happy, are?

Will you be the home I come back to?

Also cross-posted on IFSHA.

It’s A Long Way To The End Of The Road


Srini in a Thai village

In response to the post with the same pic on Srini‘s blog

It’s a long way to the end of the road

My wheels turn on tirelessly
On one side, the world as I know it
Calls out to me enchanting in its various delights
And on the other the lure of the unknown
Whispers secrets to my heart that my ears cannot hear

I sigh for a moment
Turn from left to right
Precariously balanced between the two
Excruciating, beautiful indecision
And my pedals start to slow

But my wheels run on
Painful conflicts regardless
And carry me on
Till I wrench myself away from these siren songs
And with another sigh, start to move again

It’s a long way to the end of the road
But it is in sight
And when I get there,
There’ll be another horizon to follow
The road runs on

It’s a long way to the end of the road
And I stop to look at the sights by the way
Sometimes I idle along, wondering if you’ll join me on this sojourn
And my wheels carry me on, past myself
And I wave a cheery goodbye to me.

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