Archive | 12:18 am

Through the Looking Glass

4 Sep

a.k.a. Goodbye Ganpu


I’m not religious. That’s an understatement. If I had my intolerant way as Empress of the World, religion as a construct and a practice would be officially banned and I’d happily skewer secret societies out of existence. My weekly foaming at the mouth necessarily includes how stoned the masses are on ritualism, symbolism and the debilitating need to worship. Add to it the human penchant to vilify nature as part of the revelry and I’m ready to burst a blood vessel. Ergo, my reaction to socio-religious occasions like Ganpati is a resigned trip to buy ear muffs and periodic shuddering about sound pollution and the state of the sea.

So it took me more than a little by surprise when I found myself peering curiously at the crowds at Chowpatty a few days ago and patting the little idol I took to school today for show-and-tell when it toppled over. For the first time in the 26 Ganpati festivals I have been witness to, I didn’t shut my windows to the sounds of the streets. I let the reverberations stream in, pretending not to listen to the roar of the crowds and the insistent throbbing of drums, louder than the rain that poured on their upturned faces, watched the lights and the flowers from the darkness of my balcony, pushed back the faint stirrings of a vague something as I saw truck-sized statues trundle their way toward a watery grave and I wondered. About what it is that so many people seem to find in faith and belief that I cannot be a part of. About why I can only find higher power(s) in leaves and waves and certain people. About how the socio-religious propriety gene went missing in me.

But this once, I wasn’t the critical outsider. This once, I was part of that little bobbing universe. This once, I walked willingly into the inevitable, not away from it. And I write this to the rhythm of an insanity I have long disowned. Now, I’m unsure. And I guess I’ll have to wait a whole year to find out whether this was momentary madness or old age has arrived some decades early.

Bleddy popular culture. It’s finally had its way with me.