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November 12, 2007

The Art of Entertaining.

I miss the simple world. Where people said what they meant and meant what they said. Where words stood true to their meaning. Where things were black or white...

I was watching Shree 420 with my family (Finally I have enough people at home to count as a solid family, somehow 2 just didn't cut it) and the simple scenes and clean humor brought back a kind of old world charm to life. Where people could laugh at Charlie-Chaplin style routines and dialogues were simple yet powerful and could evoke merriment without double-entendres and...loudness. I enjoyed seeing the "Do aane ka theen-theen aane ka do" dialogue for the umpteenth time.

Anyway what I miss are not just surreal moments on screen; I miss the life our parents describe. Where people would sit on the thinnai and talk, when people had the time to do it. The time to not be so self-absorbed. My mom says my thatha often said, "Oorar kozhandaiya ooti valatha, thann kozhanda thaana valarum", I wonder if people still believe in that adage? It seems to me, we have a dull and defined formula we have imprisoned ourselves with - Study, get a job, car, then the American dream house and then kids-daycare-job-India-trips... later, we will probably find ourselves right where we left...wondering if there should have been more to "life"?

My parents often used to talk of times when my patti used to cook for the whole town. My thatha had this habit of bringing home unexpected guests for dinner and while my thatha and his friends talked into the night, my patti would somehow manage to make dinner for the household (which was big to begin with - my thatha's sister and her kids stayed with my thatha, patti and their three kids) and the additional guests. Sometimes they didn't have enough to cook that night, but they somehow managed to cook and feed good food to the family and guests. And this was daily routine. This art of entertaining.

It seems to me, we are losing this art. While adding levels of convenience to our own routines (Can you please call before you come? How about a potluck? Can we get together weekend instead of weekday? I doubt I'll have time to cook on Monday!), we have lost the spontaneity and I guess...simple happiness that comes from sharing, from putting in a heart-felt effort to please someone expecting nothing in return.

After all, what is defined as happiness I guess is just the ability to lose oneself in a process...to be so involved that our senses are engrossed in that one thought and rhythm, like cooking. What better than the colors, texture, little measurements and aroma of our kitchens to create the zen that we read about in magazines?!

What if the whole point of the meeting is to entertain, to attempt to bring a little bit of joy to someone else, to kick back and settle down to the comfortable sounds of laughter and good humour. Not with an agenda - not for a baby-shower, reception or a "planned" event in a "planned" life. Just a get together to meet.

What if we meet just once and forget to look at the time? If it's late, it is and maybe we just don't care? Maybe we don't have an agenda planned for the next day, maybe we just eat ice cream and settle down for another movie? And maybe we just relax in good company...

To talk. Of simple things. To eat. To laugh. To entertain. That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

4 comments:

Gopinath Sundharam said...

Ayyooda.. completely true. We bachelors DO enjoy every weekends like this... we don't do anything, just relax, sleep, eat, talk and have fun! What a life!!! I'm sure I'll try to do the same when I'm married.. :) :)

Subha said...

meandering conversations with no purpose are extremely tempting! :) My in-laws are here and yet, we haven't had time to sit down as a family and generally chit-chat for 30 mins! :( btw, well written!

VS said...

Well put, well rendered a thought provoking in our rushed lives

RS said...

g~s - Hmm, I did that before too :) Somehow it's become a lot harder to do that lately :p

subha - tx. Maybe we can manage to do that next Fri :)

vs - thanks.

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