This past week, everything on the internet was about turkeys and thanksgiving. And though we don’t do thanksgiving here in India (except for a few people on Twitter), it IS November and that signals the end of year. The Guardian already has a list of the best books of 2012, so this is my list of things I’m thankful for this year.
The writers of Community, The Newsroom, Mad Men and Homeland:
Personally, I haven’t had the best year. But as always I find distraction and solace in television and books. And I have to thank Community, The Newsroom, Mad Men and Homeland for getting me through it without going batshit insane, growing dreadlocks and living in a tree. It’s probably not the healthiest thing to do; being so invested in fictional characters but it just makes me feel so…so alive and so…you know, I’m just going to give my hard drive a big hug right now.
Books that find you:
As you might have gathered, my life decisions don’t always lend itself to a well-fed bank account. But that’s what second hand bookstores, sales and friends are for. This year I have read borrowed books, books I picked up for Rs 50 at a sale, and books that I abandoned or never got around to reading. And I have been consistently surprised and happy. They have been books I have picked up grudgingly because I was too broke to buy what I wanted. But the good ones just found me. In many ways, I’m an old lady who is afraid of new things. I like finding my comfort zone and sticking to it and sometimes have a closed mind. I don’t want to listen to your new favourite band; I don’t want to read an author I’ve never heard of before. But almost every time I have done it, I have been rewarded. I’ve read a great deal of books this year, even signed up for a post graduation course in literature (not made a dent in that list yet though) and I do hope the next pay cheque is big enough to do some splurging. But till then, there is always my Flipkart wishlist to check and sigh everyday.
Amy Pohler is not only television’s funniest woman, she is also the personification of woman power and an example for girls all over the world. Along with being the super ambitious and funny Leslie Knope on Parks and Rec; she also has her own youtube channel. Called, Smart girls at the party, it encourages young talented girls to be themselves and be proud of it (the last episode had a Sikh girl explain her religion and what her culture entails). I imagine Pohler in real life to be something of a superwoman. Incredibly talented, funny, confident and amazing. Even if she isn’t, I’m just glad she’s on one of the best sitcoms I’ve seen this year.
On a regular day, I spend about nine to ten hours on my laptop. I can find and read this on Wednesday, laugh till my ribs hurt at this the next day and watch this on the weekend. And I can sit here in Mumbai and read the New Yorker and The Slate and The Guardian and Flavorwire. I can spend hours looking at cat videos and I can also spend hours talking to a friend in San Francisco. We talk about dependence, we talk about how the internet has us by the balls (metaphoric ones) but I don’t see the problem. The good things outweigh the bad, a million times over. The internet is filled with vile and disgusting things offset by art. Beautiful art in the form of music, videos, literature and so much more.
What a great time to live, I think sometimes when I’m standing inside a matchbox sized room and listening to the Bombay Bicycle club or when I feel gooseflesh on my arm from watching The manganiyar seduction on stage. I think about the lives my parents must have led when they were my age and I can’t believe my luck. International artists aren’t just those mythical creatures forever stuck on records (or iTunes library) any more. India isn’t just a far, exotic land of elephants and snake charmers anymore and every month we hear announcements of international artists performing here, international films being screened, international brands setting shop and we are here to witness this. It fills me with such a rush to realise that we are part of a turning point of sorts, for this country in the cultural field.
Yes, the world is still listening to Justin Beiber and One Direction, but you know what, fuck that. Every small singer, songwriter and trumpet player now has opportunity. Opportunity to reach out and make themselves heard (whether they’re good or not decides how far they go) and that’s as good as it gets. A million music, art, theatre and literature festivals have sprung up. Can’t find an audience there? Put your work online and somebody in a tiny town in Brazil may just become your fan.
I can tell my very tambhram family that I want to be a writer and they don’t automatically assume that all is lost. Just that much is great. I live in a time when I don’t have to mind my manners, wear corsets that cause asphyxia or be ‘married off’ when I turn 18. I don’t have to rebel. I know, most people don’t see the appeal in that and find rebelling against society and their parents very cool but really it’s not. We have been born in a time when it’s not rebellious to cut your hair real short and come home at 5am. It’s normal. It’s great that we don’t have to fight these tiny battles because the previous generation already paved the way for us. They fought to break out and now it’s up to us to take that chance and go as high and as far as we can. We owe it to so many, many people.